#blogtour – Secrets of the Italian Gardener by @AndrewCrofts @RedDoorBooks #bookreview #SOTIG

I’m so pleased to be on the blog tour for this book and to be sharing my thoughts on it. First of all can I say how beautiful the cover is? The picture doesn’t do it justice. My copy is the hardback and it’s just so pretty.

Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world and enshrine him in history as a glorious ruler. Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms an unlikely friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be. As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives the ghost struggles to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear.

SECRETS OF THE ITALIAN GARDENER takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey through the bloody downfall of a doomed tyrant in the company of a young couple struggling to cope with the greatest private tragedy imaginable.

Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a novella but for a short read it certainly packs plenty in. The ghost writer is in the Middle East in what he knows could be a dangerous place, trying to help a dictator to write his autobiography. It doesn’t take much to imagine the situation, the surroundings, the regime and then the violent uprising as we’ve all seen this kind of thing unfold in the news.

The book surprised me. It started out having me wondering if it was going to be too dry for me and then completely drew me into the story. The Italian Gardener of the title is an interesting man whom the ghost writer meets at the palace. Seemingly living a simple life in the middle of his friend, the dictator’s regime, there is much more to him than meets the eye.

Told in the first person by the ghost writer (who remains nameless), there is a sense of foreboding throughout. There is also a moral question here: one of how far will you go for money?

I found this book to be totally absorbing. Interestingly the author has been in similar situations to the ghost writer in the story which adds another dimension to it for me in that I’m wondering how much of the events he actually experienced himself.

This book is not quite my usual sort of read but one which I found fascinating, interesting and compelling.

With thanks to the publishers for the review copy. Secrets of the Italian Gardener is available now in ebook and paperback.


Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour.


Andrew Crofts is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which have become Sunday Times number one bestsellers. In the course of his career he has travelled the world working with victims of enforced marriages in North Africa and the Middle East, sex workers in the Far East, orphans in war-torn areas like Croatia and dictatorships like Romania, victims of crimes and abused children everywhere. He has also worked with members of the criminal fraternity.

The enormous success of these books brought many very different people to his door; from celebrities to the real elite in the form of world leaders and the mysterious, powerful people who finance them, arm them and, in some cases, control them.

His books on writing include Ghostwriting, which was quoted in Robert Harris’s bestselling novel The Ghost and Andrew acted as consultant on the subsequent major film. Other books on writing include The Freelance Writer’s Handbook and Confessions of a Ghostwriter.

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