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Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander

Alexander’s “Death in the Floating City” is part of the Lady Emily Mystery series set in the 1890s with flashback chapters set in 1489.  Lady Emily Hargreaves and her husband, Colin, respond immediately to the request of one of Emily’s school rivals, Emma Callum, to come to Venice in order to sleuth out the murderer of her father-in-law.  Emma’s husband, Paolo, has fled under suspicion of having committed the murder.  Emily does not believe her husband could have killed the older man.  Several others are investigated, including a medium who is accused of being Paolo’s lover, and members of another ancient Venetian family that has been the sworn enemy of Paolo’s family since the 15th century.  Paolo’s father had been interested in ending the centuries-old family feud.

The alternating chapters take place in the 15th century in a Romeo and Juliet-like story between a daughter of the Barozzi family (Paolo’s ancestor) and the son who becomes the head of the Vendelino family.  Besina Barozzi is first given in marriage against her will to a local merchant, and later she is divorced and sent to a convent to live out her life.  That does not mean, however, that she never again meets with Nicolo Vendelino, and they manage to share a few letters that are passed down in the families and are later discovered by Emily’s father-in-law, along with a ring Nicolo apparently gave Besina.

This was another of those books I was unable to put down until I found out what happened to Nicolo and Besina and what happened to the Barozzi who was murdered.

Liz Nichols

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