Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE 45th NAIL by @Ian_Lahey #WW2 #TuesdayBookBlog #HistFic

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The 45th Nail by Michael & Ian Lahey


Book Review: The 45th Nail by Michael Lahey and Ian Lahey


I am torn between describing this book as compelling or interesting. I think I’ll go with the latter. It has been described as a noire drama, but I found the first half of the book quite humorous.

Robert Svenson, a middle-age French teacher from the Midwest, receives a postcard and a Christmas present from his mother’s brother, a man believed to have died at Anzio during WW II. The gift is a valuable Etruscan amulet which Robert sells, ostensibly to pay for a two-month visit to Paris to work on his French. Instead he heads for Italy to find his uncle, lying to his wife, who to my mind is incredibly gullible and pretty laissez faire about his proposed trip.

On his arrival in Rome, Robert has his luggage stolen, followed by his wallet, and is forced to find the means to support himself plus accumulate the funds to search for his uncle. Luckily, the owner of the hotel to which he had been directed from the airport takes him under his wing and gets him a job with a tenuous relative. The relative owns a restaurant and hires Robert, who doesn’t speak Italian and knows nothing about wine, as his wine consultant. Robert acquires other jobs and friends and eventually meets his uncle Jim.

At this point, the novel transitions from humor to darkness, as Jim takes Robert on a tour of his Italy, where he has been living and working for the decades after the war as a sweeper of WW II mines and finder of Etruscan antiquities. The characters are richly drawn and the reader becomes pulled into the journey, discovers Robert’s moral compass, and comes to understand Jim’s convoluted thinking about his troubled past. The book is in part a tour of the history of the west coast of Italy, focusing on Jim’s knowledge of the Etruscans and of WW II, and colorful friends or acquaintances of Jim’s pop in and out of the story, sometimes with meaning, sometimes not. The food, the wine and the Italian language become threads binding the story together.

However, a sense that something terrible is going to happen increases with each step of the journey, as the meaning of the book’s title is revealed, along with the secret buried in Jim’s heart – one he feels he can only reveal to Robert.

There were parts of this book where the exposition and dialogue were overlong or ponderous, but there is also much to appreciate. Like a moth to the flame, I had to read it to the end.

Find a copy here from or



Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE 45th NAIL by @ian_lahey #WWII #HistFic #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s Team Review is from Terry, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The 45th Nail by Ian & Michael Lahey


The 45th Nail by Michael Lahey and Ian Lahey

4 out of 5 stars

The basics: Bob, a middle-aged French teacher from middle America, receives a strange communication from his long-lost Uncle Jim who he believed to have gone MIA during World War II.  The contents of this communication are sufficient to send Bob off to Italy to find him.

From the blurb I was expecting an adventure type thriller, but the beginning is more like dark comedy, as Bob tells wife Beth untruths about where he is going (the portrayal of Beth was hilarious, I’d like to have read more about her), has his luggage and wallet stolen by a con artist/pickpocket gang as soon as he arrives in Italy, then takes a series of part-time jobs in order to clothe, feed and house himself before he can even think of travelling to Anzio to seek out the mysterious Uncle Jim.  His experience ‘winging it’ as a sommelier is very funny indeed, and some of the characterisation of the people he meets is first class (I particularly liked Edigio, the hotelier who helps him along the way).

As for the plot itself, I wasn’t really convinced by it at first; it seemed to be more of a story about this funny guy who has all sorts of accidental adventures in Italy.  Then, at about twenty per cent, a well plotted twist made it all clear, and the tone changed.

The book shows the legacy left by the war, a love of Italy, the language, archaeology and social culture; I didn’t know what some of the dialogue meant and had to do a certain amount of ‘winging it’ myself, but this wasn’t a problem.  The last fifteen per cent of the book provides the terrible truth about Uncle Jim and the 45th nail – I was engrossed, and found it sad and moving.  The end is excellent.

I thought the story rambled a fair bit and gave more detail in many places where a more succinct account/stream of conversation would have had better effect, but the writing itself is great.  If it was trimmed down a bit it would be worthy of at least another half star, as far as I’m concerned.

An unusual book, and a good one.

Find a copy here from or