Best of 2013: The Lost Girls of Rome, by Donato Carrisi
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The Lost Girls of Rome, by Donato Carrisi. Mulholland, 432 pp. November 2013
Sometimes a book is a really great book, and sometimes a really great book knocks you completely upside the head. The Lost Girls of Rome is the latter of the two. I was expecting a decent thriller, but I wasn’t expecting what Donato Carrisi had to offer.
Sandra Vega, a forensic analyst with the Roman police, recently lost her husband and is working through the grief that comes with such a tragedy. He husband was said to have died by jumping from the top of a construction site a few months before, and the death was ruled an accident. But Sandra has a gut feeling that something else is at work, and she begins to follow the path she believes he laid out for her in the last days of his life.
At the same time, a series of disappearances has swept across the city, each involving a woman that is found dead a short time later. Along with the police, a pair of men are investigating these disappearances, but must do so without being seen or identified by anyone else.
In a small way, The Lost Girls of Rome is a well-written comrade to anything Dan Brown would write, and Sandra Vega is, in a sense, a stronger Robert Langdon. I’m not even someone who reads thrillers on a regular basis, but I could not put this one down.
The whole idea of “secret societies” fascinates me, and thrillers that occur in such historical places as Rome have so much to offer simply in the details the author can include from the city itself. The secrets of this novel drive it forward. Even after I had written the original review–with still about a third of the book to go come deadline–I couldn’t put it down. Despite my deadline, I continued to read until it was finished.
The ending is the part that fully blew my mind. I finished the final page, sat up and just stared at the cover for a few minutes, trying to figure out exactly what had just happened. I wish I could say more, but to do so would spoil the book, and I would hate to do that. I will leave the experience unopened, as they say, and let you see for yourself.