Villainy in Venice

I adored Suzette A. Hill's crime caper The Venetian venture. It's great fun, light, frothy, a decent crime at the centre, whimsical characters, a sort of Lindsey Davis meets Alexander McCall Smith, but without the saccharine of McCall Smith. It manages however both to have a harder edge and to stay sweet and funny.

When Rosy Gilchrist, an assistant at the British Museum, is sent off to find a missing translation of Horace, it all seems like great fun. A trip to Venice, what could go wrong? A missing book and a few dead bodies later, Rosy begins to suspect that this may not have been the safest job she's ever undertaken. Meanwhile her erstwhile friends the gloriously camp Felix and Cedric (florist to the Queen Mother, and a professor respectively) have more than just dead bodies to worry about. What if anything should happen to the dog?

It's a little period gem. Although written recently (Suzette A. Hill is an icon for anyone who has feared they will never get round to writing "that" novel, she wrote her first aged 64!), it reads like a work of the 1950s, which is exactly right as that's the period it's set in. It's wonderfully free from anachronisms and just reads like a crime story set in amber. It is often laugh aloud funny but it's also well plotted.

This was great fun, and I'm going to have Suzette A. Hill on prescription ready for the next time I need a pick-me-up. A feel-good read.


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