Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by Mark Sullivan


Reviewed by Allen Hott

Beneath a Scarlet SkyThis is a really great read. It is the story of a young Italian boy, Pimo Lella, who while growing up in Italy during the World War II Invasion by the Nazis lives quite a life. And one of the most interesting parts is that Pimo is a real life person and the story is his true story.

There were many Italians who were upset with the Nazi takeover of Italy and most of them fought against that takeover in their own way. The Lella family was one group that did all they could by working as a spy network and even used a radio to transmit information that was hurtful to the German army.

However perhaps their biggest achievement was raising Pimo to be one of Italy’s best spies. He started as a guide when he would help people get out of the country by taking them up into the mountains. There they were helped by a catholic priest, Father Luigi Re, who offered a sanctuary to those fleeing and helped them get into Switzerland, a neutral country. Those journeys are an interesting part of the story.

When he got to the age he was going to have to enlist in the ORG.TODT which was a branch of the German army that Italians served in. Pimo fought hard against it but was convinced by his family that it was the safest thing for him to do and that they had plans for him to help in their spy network.

Shortly after joining and getting out of boot camp he was summoned by a German general who had seen him repair the General’s automobile when the driver couldn’t do it. General Leyers immediately told Pimo that he was to report to headquarters the next morning to become his driver! Pimo’s family was thrilled because they knew with Pimo’s skills and hatred of the Germans he would be an important part of their spy network from a great spot. General Leyers was one of the highest ranking officers of the German army and actually was close to Adolf Hitler

The story than goes on and tells the true story of how Pimo works as a spy while driving the General all over that part of Europe. He is able to get lot of information back to his family about German troop movements and even some of their planned invasions of other areas.

While the war continues Pimo because of his closeness to the General not only meets Mussolini but many other high German officials. And he also meets the love of his life, Anna! Anna works as a maid for Leyer’s Italian girlfriend and Anna and Pimo within a short period of time fall in love.

There is much more to this great story and how this Italian boy who grew into a freedom fighter for the Italians lived his life. It is not all peaches and cream as there are some very sad moments in the book but it is still a great read. To the best of my knowledge Pimo is still alive at 93 and lives in Italy.