The Garden of Angels

Out in the UK in hardback from Severn House and on audio from Whole Story Audio on January 29, 2021. E-book UK and US March 1, 2021. US hardback April 6, 2021. Mass market paperback summer 2022.

In 1999 fifteen-year-old Nico Uccello is called to his dying grandfather’s bedside. The ailing Paolo Uccello has a gift that will change his life forever… the untold story of his life under Nazi occupation during the Second World War, and his relationship with two young Jewish partisans on the run from the Germans.

The dark past of wartime Venice is suddenly about to become shockingly alive for young Nico, and come to haunt his adult life as he struggles to come to terms with what his beloved Nonno Paolo has to tell him and him alone.

This is the labour of love I’ve been working on for nearly three years and it is, I think, the most ambitious book I’ve written in thirty years as a novelist. A story of courage against tyranny, of the desperate choices made by ordinary people when faced with oppression and terror.

At his beloved Nonno Paolo’s deathbed, fifteen-year-old Nico Uccello receives a gift that will change his life forever: a typed manuscript which tells the haunting, cryptic tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he dies, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.

Gripping and powerful, THE GARDEN OF ANGELS richly evokes the tension and threat of Nazi-occupied Venice.  A moving and important novel.

Tess Gerritsen, NYT bestselling author of I KNOW A SECRET

I can thoroughly recommend this book… it has a strong message about Fascism and about what happens to a country when people not only support and encourage it but also stand by and do nothing; are complicit in their silence. Masterful impassioned writing.

Richard Armitage

If you only read one book this year, read this one. Its essential truth about what happened in World War 2 and about what is happening now will both chill and inspire you. It’s also a damn good story featuring fantastic characters – one of which is Venice herself.

Barbara Nadel, author of BLOOD BUSINESS

Vivid and compelling, The Garden of Angels is at once a richly wrought thriller set in WWII Venice and a powerful exploration of the grey areas in which we live in times of fear and oppression. A love story and a warning that spans decades, I was thinking about this book for days after I’d closed it.

Sarah Pinborough, No 1 bestselling author of BEHIND HER EYES

A fascinating, moving and cleverly plotted historical thriller exploring one of Italy’s darkest moments. Highly recommended.

Anna Mazzola, author of THE STORY KEEPER

An atmospheric and gripping thriller by a writer who really knows Venice – its history, its intricate geography, and, not least, its people.

Gregory Dowling, author of THE FOUR HORSEMEN