‘Beneath A Scarlet Sky’ is the Story Mark Sullivan Was Born to Write [REVIEW]

Duomo di Milano

When World War II arrives in Italy, not even the Duomo di Milano is safe. (Photo by Roberto Guerrini, Flickr)

World War II is one of those unique periods in time which seems to generate an unending supply of powerful stories. Partly, I think, it is because the atrocities people endured and the horrors they witnessed were so outrageous they are still difficult for us to fully comprehend at times. The flip side of the coin, however, is that these stories often celebrate the fortitude of the human spirit and mankind’s tenacious desire to survive even the most dire of circumstances. That is definitely true in Mark Sullivan’s new novel, Beneath A Scarlet Sky.


Lake Union Publishing

Here, we meet real life hero Pino Lella. When the Nazis come to Milan, he is a normal teenager who wants nothing to do with the war. He’d much rather think about jazz, food, romance and hanging out with his little brother and their friends. Then a chance encounter with a young widow named Anna sends him tumbling head over heels in love.

The son of merchants, he comes from a good family in a trendy neighborhood. But with one devastating blow, his entire existence is soon changed forever. With his home gone, Pino joins an underground railroad that helps Jews escape over the Alps.

Worried about Pino’s future, his parents force him to enlist as a German soldier, thinking the move will ensure his survival. After another twist of fate, his association with the Nazis affords him the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command. Although he is faced with one nightmare after another, he never loses hope and instead focuses on his dream of one day building a life with Anna after the war.

Although this book is very much about World War II, it is extremely relevant for today’s reader. It reminds us that no matter how bleak life looks, there is always a chance at redemption, for a second chance. Sullivan has taken Pino’s story, paired it with lots of period detail, and crafted a novel that is transcendent, beautiful, mesmerizing and a delight to read. Just when situations seem fraught with futility, Sullivan punctuates the action with humanity and wit, and Pino’s irresistible joie de vivre.

As Martin Cruz Smith did in The Girl from Venice, Sullivan has thoroughly researched a little known aspect of Italian history, that which occurred during WWII, and lovingly brought it to vivid life, shaping Pino’s previously untold tale into an inspirational and moving novel readers will not soon forget.

This meaty epic is reminiscent of award-winning stories by some of my favorite authors, Ken Follett and Anthony Doerr, and it will undoubtedly delight anyone who loves WWII-period fiction. But even if you’re not someone who normally likes historical novels, this one is worth the read. Pino is charming, courageous, funny, and a true Italian… romantic to the core. More importantly, however, he is the kind of man who reminds us that anything is possible, and that there are some things in life which are truly worth fighting for.

Don’t miss Mark Sullivan’s Beneath A Scarlet Sky. It is one of those rare stories that will linger in your mind long after the last page is turned, and which I’m daring to predict you’ll find yourself revisiting in the years to come. Delicious, provocative, and beautifully written, Mark Sullivan has proven that he is so much more than another suspense writer. This book may very well be the novel he was born to write.


Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan is the acclaimed author of 18 novels, including the number one New York Times bestselling Private series, which he writes with James Patterson.

Mark has received numerous awards for his writing, including the WHSmith Fresh Talent award, and his works have been named a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year.

He grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in English before working as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Upon his return to the United States, he earned a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and began a career in investigative journalism.

An avid skier and adventurer, he lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana, where he remains grateful for the miracle of every moment.

Visit Mark at his home on the Web at MarkSullivanBooks.com, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and GoodReads, or subscribe to his newsletter.

By Mark Sullivan
524 pgs. Lake Union Publishing. $14.95

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to ‘Beneath A Scarlet Sky’ is the Story Mark Sullivan Was Born to Write [REVIEW]

  1. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    Beautifully written, inspiring, and absolutely riveting, Mark Sullivan’s BENEATH A SCARLET SKY may very well be the author’s best book yet. Here we learn the untold story of Pino Lella, an Italian teenager coming of age on the brink of the Nazi invasion.

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