Combining the atmosphere of Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins with the intriguing historical backstory of Christina Baker Kline s Orphan Train, Deborah Lawrenson s mesmerizing novel transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.
Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career. Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings, Joanna soon realizes, Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline over two decades ago.
Joanna s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically insists she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford s story and Nathan Emberlin s may indeed converge in Faro where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger."