Time Warner Books, £6.99
DL Smith's debut novel is a tender and sometimes hilarious account of how to create a man-made miracle and how, often, the miracle sneaks up on you without your knowledge.
When Leo Pizzola returns to the Tuscan village of Santo Fico after eighteen years in America, the locals know there's trouble on the horizon. His plan to sell his childhood home and leave as soon as possible goes awry and Leo, never one to miss an opportunity to make some cash, soon finds himself on some shaky moral ground.
Charged with the impossible task of orchestrating a miracle to restore the faith of the town's ageing priest, Father Elio, Leo and his childhood friend Topo rise to the challenge, but with unexpected results. Leo soon finds himself becoming more involved in the life of Santo Fico than he intended and perhaps, most miraculous of all, he's given the opportunity to fix the mistakes he's made.
Smith's tale of greed and redemption is warm-hearted and funny, though slow-moving at first and his characters are endearing, particularly the scheming but likeable Leo.