Murder in Venice

Written by Lucinda Byatt (trans.) Maria Luisa Minarelli
Review by J. Lynn Else

Venice, 1752. When the body of an impoverished nobleman is discovered, Avogadore Marco Pisani is asked to investigate. He’s helped by his friend Zen Daniele, a lawyer, and his gondolier, Nani. When the body of an aristocrat is found next, the ties between the two victims point to a sinister cover-up that Pisani will need to uncover if he has hopes of catching a killer.

The setting is colored vibrantly with rich detail. Readers will enjoy traveling the canals of Venice. The trio of Marco, Zen, and Nani is well-suited to explore the different social classes for clues. The author utilizes them well, capitalizing on their differences to push the plot forward in interesting ways. The main female character feels out of place in an otherwise very methodical investigation. The mystery would have unfolded nearly the same without her presence, so I was disappointed she was more filler than substance. The narration falls a bit heavy in the “telling” versus “showing” camp, and while the mystery held my interest, it is slightly watered down by the less-explored romance. A few more red herrings would have driven the suspense up to greater heights. However, the meticulous research gives rise to an absorbing atmosphere that readers will relish. This is a well-grounded mystery sheltered within a stunning historical setting.