One unidentified skeleton. Three missing men. A village full of secrets. The best-selling author of The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna brings us a sparkling—by turns funny and moving—novel about a young American woman turned amateur detective in a small village in Southern Italy.
THE LOST BOY OF SANTA CHIONIA
by Juliet Grames
Knopf, July 2024
(via The Gernert Company)
Calabria, 1960. Francesca Loftfield, a twenty-seven-year-old, starry-eyed American, arrives in the isolated mountain village of Santa Chionia tasked with opening a nursery school. There is no road, no doctor, no running water or electricity. And thanks to a recent flood that swept away the post office, there’s no mail, either.
Most troubling, though, is the human skeleton that surfaced after the flood waters receded. Who is it? And why don’t the police come and investigate? When an old woman begs Francesca to help determine if the remains are those of her long-missing son, Francesca begins to ask a lot of inconvenient questions. As an outsider, she might be the only person who can uncover the truth. Or she might be getting in over her head. As she attempts to juggle a nosy landlady, a suspiciously dashing shepherd, and a network of local families bound together by a code of silence, Francesca finds herself forced to choose between the charitable mission that brought her to Santa Chionia, and her future happiness, between truth and survival.
Set in the wild heart of Calabria, a land of sheer cliff faces, ancient tradition, dazzling sunlight—and one of the world’s most ruthless criminal syndicates—The Lost Boy of Santa Chionia is a suspenseful puzzle mystery, a captivating romance, and an affecting portrait of a young woman in search of a meaningful life.
Juliet Grames is the best-selling author of The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in Real Simple, Parade, and The Boston Globe, and she is the recipient of an Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America. She is editorial director at Soho Press in New York.