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Whispers of Vivaldi by Beverle Graves Myers

In January Beverle Graves Myers published the sixth in her Tito Amato Mystery Series, “Whispers of Vivaldi.” Brava to Myers!

Tito Amato is a castrato at the Venetian state theater, Teatro San Marco who has lost his singing voice and in 1745 is trying to build a new career as the opera company’s director under the tutelage of the theater’s Maestro Reynaldo Torani.  Amato plans to reinvigorate the opera company by producing a new opera by a promising local musician.  The bargain struck with the minister of cultural affairs for Venice is that a young castrato singing in Milan must be recruited in order to put on the new opera. There is something in this new opera that reminds Amato and others of the young Vivaldi who died in 1741 after moving from his beloved Venice to work for the Emperor in Vienna.

There is a mystery surrounding the supposedly male soprano that puts into question whether the young Angeletto is really a boy or a girl.  To complicate matters when Torani is mysteriously killed Amato is blamed because he seems to have the most to gain by the maestro’s death.  He is banned from entering the Teatro San Marco by the state’s cultural minister, but he takes on the task of helping the local police to determine who actually did kill Torani.

Myers spins a devilishly complex yet elegantly simple tale of loss, revenge, renewal and triumph amid the romantic setting of 18th century Venice.  I enjoyed this historical and musical mystery very much and am happy to recommend “Whispers of Vivaldi” to all my mystery loving fans.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice by Chris Ewan

The “Good Thief’s Guide to Venice” is the fourth in the series by Ewan.  The protagonist, mystery writer and part-time thief, Charlie Howard, moves to a new city each time he is about to start a novel.  Venice adds glamor and murky mystery as a setting.  In this book Howard is having a hard time focusing on his new book.  He seems to be having withdrawal symptoms from making a promise to himself that he will no longer participate in theft.  He is bribed into doing another heist when a female cat burglar makes off with his first edition copy of “The Maltese Falcon” and he is forced to break into the palazzo of a count in order to put something into the count’s strong room in order to get his valuable first edition classic novel back.  He follows through with explosive results.  Howard’s side-kick is his editor, Victoria, who chastises him on the state of his mystery draft, but takes his need for thievery in stride.  We also meet Victoria’s dad, Albert, an accomplished card shark.

With any luck Howard will take Victoria’s advice and make the next book about a beautiful cat-burglar, and perhaps we’ll see a reprise of the interesting Graziella the female thief.

I like the fact that this series is set in different international locations and that Howard is a complex combination of good guy and not-so-good guy.  Real people are like that too, although most don’t go to the extreme of regularly ripping off people who can afford to be ripped off.

This is a fast and entertaining read.  It was one of two books I completed while on a six day vacation, and I enjoyed every minute of the time I spent reading “The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice.”

Liz Nichols

 

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