The Venetian Venture
Rosy Gilchrist is in Venice, authorised to offer twenty guineas on behalf of the British Museum for a specific signed and annotated first edition of Bodger’s tedious translation of Horace the Roman poet. But a mischievous eccentric has offered a prize of one million pounds, a fabulous sum in 1954, for this unique volume. ‘Bodger’s Horaces’ abound, but where is the right one? The race is on as the greedy and ruthless assemble and Rosy must use all her wit, courage and determination. Are all these people (or any of them) what they appear to be: Hewson, the American artist whose work has strangely changed in style; brother and sister Edward Jones and Lucia Borgino, who both apparently make a career of being odious; Guy Hope-Landers with his heroic reputation. And why are the breakfasts served by the landlady of Rosy’s pensione so horrible when the dinners are so good? This last may be a McGuffin. Rosy’s old acquaintances Cedric and Felix, notoriously selfish although kind-hearted, are indifferent to the prize; snuggly resident in a luxurious palazzo, their only responsibility is Caruso the dog. Even they, much against their will, become involved as the danger turns deadly.
There is a fine vocabulary, although ‘expatriates would be better than ‘ex-patriots.’ Plenty of first-rate meals may be vicariously enjoyed along with copious wine drinking and chain smoking as this delightful romp takes readers through the streets, canals and bridges of Venice.