Palace of the Drowned

Flatiron. Jun. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781250788429. $27.99. THRILLER
After the poor reception of her latest novel, capped by a devastating review, a disastrous public outburst, and a stay in a sanitarium, Frances “Frankie” Croy retreats to Venice to regain her footing and begin work on her next book. Venice in the fall of 1966 is not the sunny, glossy tourist destination Frankie had imagined. Instead, although she’s staying at a palazzo owned by a friend’s family, she struggles on her own in the chilly, labyrinthine city. Just as Frankie starts to get her bearings and begins writing again, she meets Gilly Larson, a young woman who claims a past acquaintance and determinedly inserts herself into Frankie’s life in Venice. As the two women spend more time together, Gilly repels and attracts Frankie in almost equal measure. Their relationship comes to a head during the historic Venice flood of November 4, 1966.
VERDICT Mangan’s excellent sophomore effort (after Tangerine) feels like an homage to Hitchcock and Highsmith both. Frankie feels tensions, both real and imagined, that seep through the story with every word and page. Highly recommended.
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