Review Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by [Sullivan, Mark]


Editorial Reviews


A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist, Historical Fiction

A 2017 Goodreads Top 20 Most-Read Book

A Goodreads Best Book of the Month

“Exciting…taut thriller…Beneath a Scarlet Sky tells the true story of one young Italian’s efforts to thwart the Nazis.” —Shelf Awareness

“Meticulous research highlights this World War II novel of a youth growing into manhood…a captivating read…” —RT Book Reviews

“An incredible story, beautifully written, and a fine and noble book.” —James Patterson, New York Times bestselling author

“Sprawling, stirring, like the richest of stories, and played out on a canvas of heroism and tragedy, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is like one of those iconic World War II black and white photos: a face of hope and tears, the story of a small life that ended up mattering in a big way.” —Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of The One Man

“Action, adventure, love, war, and an epic hero—all set against the backdrop of one of history’s darkest moments—Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything one can ask for in an exceptional World War II novel.” —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Playing with Fire

“This is full-force Mark Sullivan—muscular, soulful prose evincing an artist’s touch and a journalist’s eye. Beneath a Scarlet Sky conjures an era with a magician’s ease, weaving the rich tapestry of a wartime epic. World War II Italy has never been more alive to me.” —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Nowhere Man

Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything—heroism, courage, terror, true love, revenge, compassion in the face of the worst human evils. Sullivan shows us war as it really is, with all its complexities, conflicting loyalties, and unresolved questions, but most of all, he brings us the extraordinary figure of Pino Lella, whose determination to live con smania—with passion—saved him.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Suspicion and The Switch

Top customer reviews

Phil in Magnolia:

Set in Italy during the last two years of the second World War, this story follows the life of a remarkable young man, Pino Lella, who finds himself assigned as the driver of one of the most powerful Nazi officials in Italy. He accompanies this General throughout northern Italy as the war deteriorates and comes to a violent and tragic end.

The scenes of brutality on all sides are shocking and depressing, not only on the part of the Nazis towards their captives and slaves, but also on the part of Italians who at the end of the war let their anger erupt against the dictator Mussolini and others. There are many scenes of heroism and bravery as well, and the story of Lella makes it all very personal throughout. His own tragedies are particularly painful and sad as the war ends.

This is an extraordinary life in all respects, not only his wartime accomplishments but his life afterwards which is recounted at the end of the novel. His encounters with various famous people throughout his life are fascinating.

A very worthwhile story that author Mark Sullivan was lucky enough to learn of, then putting several years of research into piecing together as many of the details as he could. He presents it as a biographical / historical novel but inasmuch as it is based upon the true story of Pino Lella I take it as fundamentally a true story. Remarkable to read, both sad and inspiring.

Boxer Dog Lover in Vermont…:

A Kindle First selection that is masterfully written with complex characters and heart-pounding scenes. It takes place in Italy -‘the forgotten front’- during WW II and the reader is drawn into a web of intrigue. Pino Lello, 17 years of age, is wise beyond his years and intelligent, as well. It is a gripping story of resilience, the indomitable spirit of a young man that knew no boundaries and courage that sustained him during dark hours.

When reading the first portion, I was wondering if (and how) this intense pace would continue. The climbing scenes through the mountains gave me a real shot of adrenaline. I felt as though I was one of the climbers and not a reader. This is also when the echoes of ‘Nessun Dorma’ were played with such passion. For me, this is one of the underlying themes in the story – ‘none shall sleep’. And, Pino Lello has taken that to heart for the remainder of this story.

The action intensified throughout the remainder of the book, and one is allowed a rare glimpse into the mind of Il Duce – Benito Mussolini – plus the inner workings of the German High Command. Becoming a driver for Major General Hans Leyer allows Pino access to a man that is two steps from the Fuhrer. Pino Lello witnesses atrocities he wishes he could forget but keeps soldiering on…wisely…

Just a gripping and harrowing Kindle First selection which I feel is the best one I have read. Full of action and suspense which will keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration.

Damian Slattery:
I’ve read nearly every word Mark Sullivan has ever published – so I can say with authority that this work, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, stands as the ultimate fusion of his Pulitzer-nominated journalistic skills and his mastery of the thriller genre, which he’s honed at the keyboard he sometimes shares with James Patterson. He takes us deep inside the love story of his discovery, the unknown hero, Pino Lella, and he crafts an epic tale set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Milan and the Italian Alps during World War II that is as intimate and tragic as it is thought-provoking and triumphant. Every page, every step crackles. Each twist, rooted in years of first-class reporting, shocks you anew. Through Sullivan’s gripping cast of characters, the unreality and brutality of war meets its match in the guts and wits and soul of Pino Lella, his family, his friends and cohorts. This heretofore untold story has been etched in my heart and mind with a telling that is equally cinematic and literary. With this, perhaps his masterwork, Sullivan has reached a pinnacle in storytelling – and readers everywhere, like me, will be better for living it through his words. Of course, it is Pino Lella we must also praise and thank – for what he did with his young life, his uncommon bravery, his story and letting Sullivan share it with us. I wish I could read it again for the first time.

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