Blanche Nero's life has been punctuated by a series of important deaths. At fifteen years old, Blanche's father was executed for the killing of their neighbor. This death caused Blanche to have an interest into her father's past and sparked a curiosity for violence and death . After excelling academically in high school and college, her mother's death provides enough money for Blanche to go to Med School. Blanche is able to train with the best doctors in the field and becomes a successful trauma surgeon at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina hits, Charity closes and Blanche takes a leave to Venice. In Venice she rents a flat and befriends Ludo, or more precisely, Count Lorenzo Ludovici. Ludo is dying of AIDS, but before he goes Ludo has a secret to reveal to Blanche that will unravel the mystery behind her father's death. Ludo's death will also open up another door for Blanche to move on with her life.
From the moment Blanche's father murders their neighbor, I was pulled into the mystery of the Nero family. The name Blanche Nero literally means 'White Black.' From Blanche's birth, everything has been one or the other, black or white, no grey. Throughout the book I did wonder if her father gave her the first name of White to try to lessen the black of his name. Blanche's character lives her life very directly. The writing brought me back and forth between Blanche's present as a 60 year old woman in Venice and her past growing up in Almesboro and throughout her schooling. She is looking back at her life and examining her choices through a very mature lens. Throughout the book death and violence are recurrent themes. However, through Blanch eyes, the deaths are drawn in a different light, without much meaning or emotion, but with advancement; that is until Ludo. Ludo is exceedingly charming and a little frustrating with the slow reveal of his relation to Blanche's mystery. Ludo's dignified ways create the perfect illusion to begin to introduce Blanche to the black spot in her father's history that I couldn't even begin to piece together until the very end. In addition to the curious mystery, the Venitian culture and city is brought to life through Blanche and Ludo's travels as well as it's darker history. Overall, an engaging story that weaves together death, secrets and their impact on our lives.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.