Beneath A Scarlet Sky Book Review

Beneath A Scarlet Sky: Book Review By Dinh.

4.5 stars for Beneath A Scarlet Sky


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.


Synopsis from Kindle version, 526 pages, copyright 2017, and published by Lake Union Publishing. Many thanks to NetGalley for my review copy.

Find Mark Sullivan: Website |Amazon Author Page |Facebook |Twitter


Wow, what an incredible story!

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan is a historical fiction novel based on the true life of Pino Lella during World War II.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Here’s why it was so good!

Writing Style

When it comes to historical fiction, I find that the writing style can tend to be a bit heavy to read. This was not the case with Beneath A Scarlet Sky.

What I enjoyed so much about this historical fiction was that it not a heavy read. The book read more like a thriller, with some parts that were descriptive.

The novel had a nice balance of telling the story and had enough parts that were descriptive to help you emotionally connect with the characters.

Pino’s story was nicely paced and I got drawn into his world being in the mountains and helping the Jews escape to Switzerland and then as a spy working for General Hans Leyers.

The action and pace of the book made me want to know what would happen to Pino. Each aspect of his life from the beginning to the end was fascinating.

Story Line

What is so remarkable about the book is Pino’s story. What an incredible story!

This historical fiction was based on real people during World War II in Italy.

It definitely makes an interesting read when the hero of our story is only a young boy when he got started in helping against the Nazis persecution of the Jews in Italy.

Pino Lella is an incredible person. What a wonderful and powerful story he has. At 18, Pino was chauffeur to the Nazi High Commander General Leyers and took risks as a spy because of his convictions of doing what was right. Even some of his family and friends did not know he was a spy and Pino suffered emotionally because was seen as traitor and a Nazi lover.

I liked that the novel is set in Italy. Every country has its unique experience with World War II and it’s nice to read about Italy because we hear so much about resistance to the Nazis in other countries but not so much in Italy.


The people in Pino’s life were all interesting and I could imagine him and his relationship with his family and friends.

  • Pino Lella

Pino Lella is an amazing person! He is morally strong, courageous and a decent guy.

It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in and Pino had that courage to stand up for what he believed in. He acted in accordance with his beliefs and though at times he felt he didn’t have the strength to be brave, he looked to his faith and Father Re for guidance.

I was moved by Pino’s bravery- he was young when he started helping. Pino first trained his body by walking the mountains so he could get fit and then being a guide, helping the Jews across the Alps into neutral Switzerland. The mountains were treacherous and he faced many physical challenges as well as the threat of being discovered and shot.

Father Re was a remarkable character that got Pino started on his journey to help the Jews escape Fascist Italy, when the Nazis were occupying Italy.

Anna, who Pino fell in love with was also an interesting character. She helped give Pino strength when he needed it and helped him with some of his missions.

Best Part Of The Book?

One of my favorite part of the book was how Pino saved the pregnant lady in crossing over the mountains to Switzerland. You can really see what sort of person he really is. By focusing on her through talking about her dreams and desires he gets her across the dangerous mountains.

I also liked the ending of the story too. It was a sad and cruel ending.

With the withdrawal of the Nazis from Italy, there were many public revenge killings and many Italians acted savagely. This part of the book was a revelation that surprised me.

The ending was also poignant. Pino didn’t get all the answers to his questions. There are some mysteries that he will never know, like how General Leyer knew Pino’s code name Observer.

My Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed Beneath A Scarlet Sky for its well paced story. Mark Sullivan is a master storyteller who will transport you into the inspirational and courageous life of Pino Lella.

This historical fiction will take you on an interesting journey in Pino Lella’s life in Italy during World War II.  Filled with powerful messages and altruism of the human condition, I would highly recommend you to read it. Fans of All the Light We Cannot See will definitely enjoy this novel.


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12 thoughts on “Beneath A Scarlet Sky Book Review

  1. I wonder how many 18 year olds born in 2000 would have real courage convictions and morals to carry such heavy burdens in the way of Pino. I am sure that it is tempting for all readers of this book to want to compare todays 18 year olds.

    1. Hi Bridget!
      It is tempting to compare todays 18 years old to the past and I have had such thought, but I think in war time it is when we really find out who we are. We may like to think that we would have the convictions and morals to stand up for what is right, but we don’t know for sure until the time it is upon us.

      The world is a different place today and the upbringing of children have changed so much that I do wonder if altruism is still prevalent in homes. Social values have changed too, and I am not sure whether it is for good or bad.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I really enjoyed this book. Since we don’t really know how Gen. Leyers knew Pino was the observer, does anyone have any good guesses and reasonings on how?

    1. Hi Joe!
      I am glad you enjoyed Beneath A Scarlet Sky.
      My only guess is that Leyers was a double agent. He must have turned at some point and that’s how he knew Pino was the Observer.

  3. This book is wonderful. I agree whole heartedly with your review. I finished reading this some days ago and it’s still with me. I am so grateful the Author told this story and I’m sure there are more stories like this out there – although it seems unlikely one quite like this could be. Fantastic book – simply fantastic.

    1. Hello Katalina!
      I am so glad you enjoyed the book. I think this is the sort of story that will stay with you. It’s a powerful, heroic story.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Hi Linda!
      I am in awe of Pino Lella. It’s great to know that there are real heroes out there that will stand up for what is right.

  4. Wow, Dinh, this sounds like an amazing story! At first, I did a double take on the name switch. Ha! It’s interesting how the author flipped the name of the real person (Lella Pino) to base his fictional character (Pino Lella). Both have a nice ring. He sounds like an exceptionally complex character with the burden I can’t even fathom. I don’t like “sad and cruel ending” but for this one, I think it’s well worth it. Any tears?

    1. Hi Lonna!
      Oops I think I did a typo. The hero is Pino Lella and the author didn’t switch it. LOL, that was just me….I will go change that 🙂

      I did cry in reading the book. It was very sad in one part- I won’t go into the details as it would ruin it for other readers. I do like stories that are set in war time. We really discover what sort of person we are when we are pushed to it. Pino Lella is inspirational. 🙂

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