The Pequod Review:
The Secret of Santa Vittoria is a charming historical novel set in the eponymous Italian village in the period immediately following Mussolini's death. The story imagines a Nazi German plot to invade Santa Vittoria and steal over a million bottles of valuable wine, an effort that is aided by the local post-Duce power vacuum. Fortunately, the village elects a new mayor who despite his clownish demeanor has studied Machiavelli — and proves to be well-suited to stand up to the Nazis. The book's plot is sometimes predictable and Robert Crichton is a limited writer, but the narrative develops some real momentum (as well as a lot of humor) and culminates in a gripping yet funny torture scene. The Secret of Santa Vittoria was an enormous popular success upon its release — it spent fifty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1966-1967 — but has been unjustly overlooked since then.