Hosannas in the TLS and the Guardian reviews prompted me to order this book and have it sent all the way to America. Its premise (the Mafia returns to Sicily with Patton's and Montgomery's armies) sounded intriguing enough. My hopes were disappointed. Having read it, I am frankly baffled that any reviewer could praise this desperately poorly written novel. The blood and guts of the battle scenes has been praised as "poetic"; but it's forced and unconvincing, to say the least. I willed myself ("flogged" might be the better word) to finish the book, hoping there might be something to redeem it. There wasn't. Truly, it is one of the most ineptly written books I have ever read. Whatever merit Foulds may have as a writer, his editor should not have let him get the bit in his mouth and run off with ludicrously extravagant and clumsy metaphors and sometimes freakish diction that would make you laugh, were there not so many instances of them to, in the end, annoy you. The characterization is utterly arbitrary, cartoonish really and nothing more. Think before you lay out £17 and give this one a wide berth. Not only is it a waste of money, it is also a waste of cellulose. Worse of all, it is a waste of your valuable time -- a far, far worse sin. But to give it its curate's egg due: Suzanne Dean's cover design is striking -- the best thing about the book, in fact.