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The Savage Garden [Kindle Edition]

Mark Mills
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Product Description


Praise for The Whaleboat House:

‘A master of the art of murderous storytelling.’ Sunday Times

‘This is an intriguing, atmospheric, literary crime novel. The uneasy juxtaposition of two communities is brilliantly evoked by Mark Mills.' Daily Mail

‘Subtle and stylish. Mills is clever, unravelling the story from several angles.' Observer

‘The requisite qualities of a film script – atmospheric details, lucidity and a simple, spare style.' Sunday Telegraph

‘A very rich book – rich in detail and history and local color; rich in characters and conflict and mystery; and, most importantly, rich in wonderful writing.’ John Grisham

‘Complex and compelling…Mark Mills reveals himself to be a master storyteller.' Val McDermid

‘A striking and assured first thriller…worldly and impeccably researched.’ William Boyd

The Times

`Mills writes beautifully... an unusual, captivating novel that is
a cut above the norm'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 696 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0425221296
  • Publisher: Harper (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002S5NP02
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #97,395 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, 'The Whaleboat House', won the 2004 Crime Writer's Association for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, 'The Savage Garden', was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and No 1 bestseller. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
189 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and literary crime novel 16 July 2007
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I discovered Mark Mills by accident - he spoke alongside Emer McCourt at Edinburgh Book Festival a couple of years back. His debut, Amagansett (renamed Whaleboat House) was a period murder mystery set in Long Island just after WWII. It was stylish, well written and dealt with the social issues as the local population were being displaced by wealthy NYC types.

Mark Mills has now followed this up with a novel set in Tuscany in the 1950s. A young English student is tasked with uncovering the mysteries of a 400 year old memorial garden at a castle owned by a friend of his Cambridge tutor. As the mystery is uncovered - details matching with various classical texts - our student hero Adam discovers that the present day family have their own secrets. He starts to unravel those secrets, discovering what really happened when the castle was occupied by the Germans in the war.

The writing is well researched and very intelligent. Mills creates an air of menace that gets stronger as the novel progresses. But his forte is in creating believable characters with shades of light and dark. As the finger of suspicion is pointed, the suspects don't panic and wave guns around, they don't seek confrontation. Arguments are avoided, issues skirted. This lack of action then adds to the suspense and intrigue.

Moreover, the scene setting works well. Mills is a master of painting a scene with vivid, clear language. In this case, the mountains, the castle and the villages create a very claustrophobic atmosphere - the perfect environment for feuds to simmer and vengeance to be taken. And within each confined space, yet more confined spaces are created. Tuscany - the village - the castle - the garden - the grotto... The pacing, too, works very well.
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82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never has gardening been so dangerous 3 Aug. 2007
This is the first novel by Mills that I have read. I admit, I came to it via the Richard & Judy summer read bookclub. Having been disappointed with previous selections for this year, I have to say I wasn't holding out much hope at the beginning of me enjoying this. Happily, I was found to be wrong.

The book is about Adam, a university student who is encouraged to travel to Italy to the Villa Docci, home of the Docci family, by his lecturer. Adam is told that there is an interesting 400 year old memorial garden there, which could be a good subject for his thesis. As he sets out, he does not realise just how enchanting this garden shall be. Made up from hidden groves, grottos, statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses, this garden is more than first appearances would suggest. Rather than being a mere memorial garden, it holds a secret hidden in the imagery and symbolism it contains.
As Adam emerses himself more into the secrets of the garden, he also begins to suspect that the living members of the Docci family also have their secrets to hide, secrets that seem to echo history.

Mills does a fantastic job at creating mystery throughout this book. At first, I was unsure that the premise of the book would be enough to carry it. However, the way that Mills explains the symbolism of the garden, you completely get carried away with the unfolding mystery. I loved how the garden was linked to a piece of literature - as a lover of English throughout my whole life, Adam's pouring over literary texts to unlock secrets of the past was an absolute delight.

The characters are also superbly written. Having finished the book, I could see the progression that took place in Adam, for example.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twists and Turns 1 Sept. 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I started this book with some trepidation, thrillers, murders and mysteries are not my norm when it comes to books. I have since changed my mind! The murders have already been committed, by the time we see Adam make his journey to Italy and we are taken on a journey as he uncovers what happened in these murders and also how they are being hidden from those left around them. In fact the clues are all around and I learnt just as much about Dante's Inferno, (though confess to having to go and find some additional information about it) as Adam did and how this knowledge helps him solve clues but also create more along the way.

There are some quite 'wordy' passages, and this book requires an element of concentration to keep with the plot, but once it has you hooked then you are in the garden with Adam and those he meets along the journey to solving the mystery. It is billed in some places as somewhat of a thriller, it isn't it is a mystery though and if you are happy with a fairly loose mystery and no overly descriptive passages about how the murders were committed then you will enjoy it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was very impressed by the author's first book 'The Whaleboat House', and ordered this one. But it's almost as if it's another - lesser - writer, or 'The Savage Garden' was really the first novel, put away in a drawer years ago, then dusted off...
If I hadn't liked the author's other book I would have given up after about 50 pages - it's very pedestrian, and you don't really get a sense of place : he's writing about one of the most beautiful parts of the world, but the descriptive passages feel like they could have been copied from guidebooks.
I find this strange because 'The Whaleboat House' is set in America's Long Island in 1947, and Mills puts you there effortlessly - the Atlantic coast setting, the period, the tensions of a place on the cusp of changing from a hardscrabble fishing community to its colonisation by rich New Yorkers, looking for a summer retreat. The characterisation is very subtle and believable, and it wasn't until after I'd finished that I found out that the author wasn't American - it's pitch-perfect.
So I was disappointed by 'The Savage Garden' - I didn't really believe in any of the characters or the love story, the 'crime' plot is paper-thin, the 'garden' plot is better, but doesn't take up much space, and the 'twist' is so-so.
It would have been better to have made the 'garden' story the main thrust and expanded it greatly, with the protagonist seeking out clues, looking in archives, teasing out the full story from centuries ago etc.
However, if you liked this, you should like 'The Whaleboat House' even more - and if you didn't like this, you'll be pleasantly surprised by 'The Whaleboat House'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Amazon reviewers more trustworthy than the big names.
Just started this as audio book and paused it so often to discuss with partner, 'Was Mantegna a sculptor?' 'Did Fra Filippo Lippi paint in the Brancacci Chapel? Read more
Published 2 months ago by Linda Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Nearly as good as the "Information Officer"
Published 3 months ago by D. Miller
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
not very good
Published 3 months ago by Mrs C russell
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by Top reviewer
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This book got (some) good reviews and was expecting a book I could get my teeth into to. I could not connect with any of the people. the Adam seemed so boring and egotistical. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Vanessa
2.0 out of 5 stars Despite praise in the press, unevenly written, laboured plot and...
Well, here is another cry from the heart – though I would much prefer not to have to say what follows. Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. N. BURCHARDT
5.0 out of 5 stars Great holiday read,
I couldn't put this book down. Loved the story and all the characters. Finished it in a couple of days. Great holiday read .
Published 6 months ago by Angela
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A well written book and the plot holds one's attention. Could not put it down, very, very clever story
Published 6 months ago by Shirley Silcock
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Emma Reynolds! A great read.
One to make you think...
Try this one on holiday, can't wait till our next book club to get our new reading list!
Published 9 months ago by Stephanie
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to the reviews
I saw this book on a friend's table and as it had a Richard and Judy sticker I asked to borrow it. Up to that point every R&J I had read had been excellent. This book disappoints. Read more
Published 11 months ago by S. Farnaby
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