Book Review: Venetian Blood by Christine Evelyn Volker

Venetian BloodAbout the Book

Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend- but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears? A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth – before it’s too late.

Format: eBook (345 pp.)           Publisher: She Writes Press
Published: 8th August 2017      Genre: Crime, Mystery

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Find Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City on Goodreads

My Review

A few months ago I spent two wonderful days in Venice so when I saw this book I was immediately attracted by its setting. Having wandered along some of its streets and beside its canals (staying off the main tourist drag and much quieter once all the cruise ships have departed for the evening), I can certainly understand why the author hit upon Venice as a suitable location for murder!

The atmosphere of this wonderful city is convincingly evoked in Venetian Blood. From its network of narrow streets, punctuated every now and again by small bridges over quiet canals with the occasional gondola passing by, to the hustle and bustle of the main piazzas, to the Grand Canal with its constant stream of vaporettos and ferries, to the faded grandeur of its palazzos and the very different atmosphere of the outlying islands.

In Venetian Blood, the author creates a picture of an insular, closely connected community where just about everyone seems to know everyone else’s goings on, including relationships of a financial and (often illicit) romantic nature – the book’s subtitle Murder in a Sensuous City is well-earned. However this does mean there is only a small cast of characters for the reader to get to know – and suspect!

Initially suspected of the murder of the Count, Anna sets out to clear her name but, as she gets closer to the truth, she finds herself in danger. Furthermore, traumatic memories from her past start to surface, threatening her hold on reality. Soon Anna finds herself in the centre of a complex web of intrigue, wondering who she can really trust.  Everyone from the receptionist of her pensione to her best friend seems a possible threat.

As the book progresses, it becomes clear that the murder of the Count may be rooted in past secrets, family tragedies and a desire for revenge as well as more modern day concerns.  Like the doges of old, Venetians such as Alessandro, descended from the noble families of earlier times, seek to exert power and influence just as eagerly as they seek to restore and preserve ancient Venice. This provides an interesting contrast of past and present, sacred and profane.

The plot of Venetian Blood is as labyrinthine as the back streets of Venice and at points I found myself wishing for a whiteboard like the one used by our heroine, Anna, to map out the financial connections that form part of the story. I will admit to getting slightly lost with the latter – unlike the author, I don’t have a background in international banking! I suspected just about everyone at some point and willingly admit I did not unravel the solution before it was revealed.  The perfect murder mystery then!

If you know Venice and enjoy a deliciously intricate murder mystery, then this is the book for you. I loved spotting places I’d visited and I was thrilled when at one point something happened very near the hotel where I stayed. If you’ve never visited Venice, Venetian Blood would be the perfect introduction to the city – or, even better, the perfect excuse to plan a visit.

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In three words: Atmospheric, suspenseful, mystery

Try something similar…City of Masks by S D Sykes (same location, different century, similar body count – click here to read my review)

ChristineEvelynVolkerAbout the Author

Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which motivated her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After earning an MLS and an MBA, she was drawn to international banking and worked as a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood marks a return to her roots in the humanities. A native New Yorker, she resides with her husband in Northern California. Exploring both tame and wild places around the world, she is currently at work on her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru.

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