Synopses & Reviews
Fresh from finishing university in England, Adam Woods arrives in Venice to begin a new chapter in his life. He soon secures employment as the personal assistant of Gordon Crace a famous expatriate novelist who makes his home in a dank and crumbling palazzo, surrounded by fabulous works of art, piles of unanswered correspondence and the memories of his former literary glory.
Before long Adam becomes indispensable to the feeble Crace, and he finds himself at once drawn to and repelled by his elderly employer's brilliant mind and eccentric habits. As Adam comes to learn more about the scandal that brought Crace to Venice years ago, he realizes he has stumbled upon the raw material that could launch his own literary career and makes a bold decision: He will secretly write the famous author's biography. But outsmarting Crace is easier said than done, and the two soon find themselves locked in a bitter contest over the right to determine how the story of Crace's life will end. Against the haunting backdrop of the serene city, the two men engage in a ruthless game of cat and mouse that builds to a breathtaking and unexpected conclusion.
"Patricia Highsmith, the subject of British journalist Wilson's acclaimed biography Beautiful Shadow, would be delighted by this standout debut novel, which heralds a major new talent in the psychological thriller genre. After a tutoring job in Venice falls through, aspiring novelist Adam Woods appears to luck into the perfect position there as personal assistant to the reclusive Gordon Crace, an acclaimed writer whose life is shrouded in mystery and who's published only one novel. Crace, who's locked himself away from the glories of his chosen city, insists Woods abide by a set of strict rules, including not mentioning Crace's literary success. In clearing out the author's mess of a study, Woods finds two letters that hint at a dark secret in Crace's past, and begins to discreetly probe his employer's past, with calamitous results. Wilson brilliantly and subtly introduces doubt in the reader as to Woods's reliability and character before delivering some potent final plot twists. Fans of classic Hitchcock will be richly rewarded." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A mouldering Venetian palazzo, a decaying old man and an unscrupulous young writer. Corruption, seduction and a notable lack of guilt. A story as rank and rich as the city it is set in." Sarah Dunant, author of The Birth of Venus
"Wilson, a first novelist, clearly enjoys a good wink....He fashions his twisted tale with assurance and artistry, and although we may not particularly like any of his characters, we're still dying to know what happens to them." Booklist
"In genre fiction, the gold standard isn't always measured by originality and there are times when a familiar plot can comfort and delight....[A] romantic suspense story that's no less enthralling for being a bit quaint." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Wilson overthinks the hectic denouement, but getting there offers the same skin-crawling pleasure that Highsmith knew how to deliver so well. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Andrew Wilson is an award-winning journalist and author. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the New Statesman, the Evening Standard magazine and the Smithsonian.