Publisher: Viking Canada
Received: Borrowed from my local libraryRelease Date: August 25, 2009
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In the winter of 1944, the newly liberated city of Naples has become an ever more dangerous place. Among those charged with maintaining the military security of the city is a young Canadian, Lieutenant Thomas Greaves. Greaves seems naïve at first, but it soon becomes clear that he has demons to exorcise and that he sees his time in Naples as the opportunity to make amends for a tragic mistake made on the battlefield. But his plans go awry, and Greaves lands in the murky world of gangsters and black marketeers.
I have to be honest, this book was one of the most difficult for me to get through of the ones I chose to read this month. I loved the idea behind it, having the setting in Naples following the liberation from the Nazi's and seeing what is now happening. I love Italian settings as I have mentioned before, and I'm always interested in WWII and how certain countries recuperated following those events.
The main issue I had with this book was that there were so many characters that readers follow along with, and I felt confused in the beginning as to what exactly was happening. I felt like the story jumped around a lot, and it took me awhile to understand who I was following and what exactly was happening (I think I was fairly close to the end of the story when things finally started getting put together). I also felt like some of the chapters dragged on and I lost focus a few times during my reading of this book, but I will say the ending of this book redeemed itself and I found myself a little more interested in the story and how things would end for everyone.
What I really enjoyed about this book were the characters, even though I felt confused at times with them, each of them have issues. You can really see right from the beginning of this story how the war has affected each of them, and in a way is still affecting them now even though the Nazi's are gone from their area. Greaves is the one character who is trying to help everyone around him and he is naive to everything that is happening in Naples, it definitely is a scary place at this time.
I think I was most confused with Greaves' POV in the beginning, but also there is the world of the gangsters that took awhile to wrap my head around. Once I was able to figure out what was going on I was intrigued at how the world these gangsters inhabited worked, and Finucan really makes his readers know that this is not a safe place for anyone. Corruption is such a large theme in this novel, and it is so surprising to see everything that people do at this time.
The tone of this book is very dark and gritty, and I think Stephen Finucan did a great job at bringing the misery these people went through at this time to life in the book. The way the setting and the characters are described goes along well with the feeling of the story, everyone is down on their luck and will take whatever means possible to get by each day.
Honestly, I was ready to give up on this book, but I had invested so much time and it was a fairly short book that I wanted to finish it. And by the end I am glad, I had my issues but this book was definitely a gritty and dark book, with characters that all had issues, making them very real in a time where nothing is pretty. What I really wish with this book was that there was not so many characters that readers follow, that makes the reading and understanding of the book quite difficult.