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The Scent Of Lemon Leaves by Clara Sanchez (Alma Books, £12.99)
SANDRA is a pregnant, single 30-yearold woman who needs to take stock of her life.
She rents her sister’s house in a village on the Costa Brava but when she feels unwell on the beach one day an elderly Norwegian couple, Frederik and Karin, take care of her and soon they become friends.
Sandra spends more and more time with them viewing them as surrogate grandparents, until she meets Julian.
Julian is in his eighties, a concentration camp survivor, and now a Nazi hunter, having come to the Costa Brava after receiving a letter from an old friend he met in Mauthausen.
On his arrival, he finds his friend has died and now it is up to him to ‘unearth’ the brotherhood of Nazis living there. Frederik and Karen are part of it and soon Sandra becomes involved, and, convinced by Julian and what she discovers, she joins Julian in his search for truth and revenge. It will threaten everything she believes in but gives her something else in return.
This is a wonderful novel, and while the title is relevant, it hides the dark story of deceit and hidden secrets. The characters of Sandra and Julian are engaging and while we become absorbed in their plight and actions, we are left feeling satisfied at the unexpected ending.
The book reads at a good pace and that is partly due to the excellent translation which also gives a believable sense of time and place. It is a book I shall remember for a long time.