‘Funny, romantic, disturbing… A marvellous tapestry of war… Moving and satisfying‘ New York Times.330
It is 1942 and the island of Malt is under siege by a triumphant German air force. From the smoke and magnesium glare of bomb blast steps Rocco Raven, native of Brooklyn, New York, apprentice radioman and expert car mechanic. His only contact is an American intelligence officer, Jack Fingerly, whose purpose is known to no-one but himself. Far from finding a role for Rocco, Fingerly leaves him to face the chaos alone.
On only his third day there his billet, on the top floor of a brothel, is blown to pieces. Without contacts or belongings, Rocco is left to wander the devastated streets of Valetta in abewildered daze until he sees an apparition, Melita, a beautiful, ethereal woman.
It is the beginning of an extraordinary relationship, at once passionate and guarded, which flourishes as the island’s fortunes decline. Under the threat of starvation and in a world infused with the eccentricities of war, Rocco’s seems to be the lone voice of sanity, until he too is infected by the madness around him and succumbs to the voluntary thrill of danger…
‘Much enoy…Rinaldi has tremendous fun evoking the rich cultural pudding that was Malta in 1942, its weird combination of superstition, fatalism and grafted-on anglophilia, of ricotta and stiff upper lip’ Patrick Gale, Daily Telegraph
‘Under the heat and the hammering of bombs, Rinaldi paints the essence of the Second World War in exciting miniature’ David Hughes, Mail on Sunday.