Publishing Info: January 3, 2023 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: November 11, 2022
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.
Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.
As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.
Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.
I have mixed feelings on this one! I enjoyed reading it but I couldn’t have cared less about the backstory POV in the 70s. There were too many characters that we didn’t get to know enough, flowery music & writing drama that I didn’t care about, and too much romantic drama that was annoying. If that hadn’t been in the book and the mystery was pure research by Emily, I would have liked it a LOT better.
I did like the ending but in a sort of toxic best friend way. It reminded me a bit of a favorite movie but is referencing that movie a spoiler because of what happens? Probably. Anyway, loved that part!
I always enjoy the writing style but I just didn’t care about the flashbacks, like at all. I had a hard time paying attention to them until later and meh, it wasn’t worth it. Cut all those and make it more wild between the two friends and I would have been all for it. There were some dark holes to dive down that we didn’t and that could have been awesome.
The titular villa itself also could have been this cool, creepy, gothic character in itself and it just wasn’t…. anything. It was barely described except for a few locations which ended up being important to the plot and there wasn’t much of anything that really gave you good *vibes* to really pull you into the story.
Ultimately, I feel like this was pulled in too many different directions. The setting didn’t get a good description going, the main characters were slightly under-developed, the backstory wasn’t deep enough for me to care, there were random bits of song and podcast but they were exactly that: random. It was a little of this, a little of that. Cut all the “extra” stuff and focus on the core of the story and it could have been really awesome. It just left me underwhelmed in that sense.
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