The Villa by Rachel Hawkins
“And in moments like this, when it’s just the two of them in their perfect cocoon, she doesn’t regret any of it.”
― Rachel Hawkins, The Villa
Summary: 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 the rock & roll lifestyle 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.
My thoughts: The Villa is a story told in two timelines, one being present day from the viewpoint of Emily. The second being in the 1970s from the viewpoint of Mari. It is a layered, suspenseful story, in both timelines. In the past, the mystery is straightforward: the who and the why of the murdered and murderer. In the present, the mysteries are more subtle: the tension in Emily’s relationships with Chess and with her soon-to-be ex-husband Matt. Both stories work individually, and each adds a bit of depth to the other.
Once again I am impressed with a Rachel Hawkins book! I definitely enjoy her writing style. Her stories are quickly paced and easy to follow. While this one was a little more straightforward, I found it just as eerie as her other works! For my reviews on Reckless Girls and The Wife Upstairs, click the links.