In 1938, Ernst Vogler is sent to Italy by the German government to bring back for Hitler a famous ancient statue, Myron’s The Discus Thrower. Vogler is a sad case. Afraid to speak up about what is happening in Germany, he falls back on obedience to orders as a lifeline; his passion for art is only “a substitution for other losses.” Sneaking out of Rome with the statue tucked safely in back of a truck, Vogler is accompanied by two Italian brothers, both policemen. They have three days to reach the German border. But time has its own logic in Italy, and one brother has his own agenda. There are betrayals. People die. Vogler’s schedule is thrown to the winds. Then, unexpectedly, Vogler is given the gift of love with a beautiful and passionate woman in the lush countryside of Piedmont.
VERDICT: Romano-Lax is singularly gifted: she creates full-fledged, engaging characters and writes compelling narrative. Some of her descriptive passages take your breath away. The author’s The Spanish Bow was a hit. This novel will make a splash, too, for the same reasons.
[See Prepub Alert, 8/21/11.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA