Did the three loosely connected Venetian residents dead within a few weeks really fall prey to natural causes?
Amateur sleuth, biographer and lover of all things Venetian, Urbino Macintyre (The Last Gondola, 2003, etc.) thinks something is wrong with three suspiciously proximate deaths. His longtime friend and detecting partner, Barbara, Contessa Capo-Zendrini, disagrees, but Urbino is determined to search for the truth. The dead are Konrad Zoll, a wealthy German who had leukemia; his young Italian helper; and a cleaning woman Urbino had known for years. The sleuths learn that the young man was killed by falling masonry, but the death that most troubles Urbino is that of Albina Gonella, a cleaner and restroom attendant at several Venetian cafés. Passing by as she’s finishing cleaning at Da Valdo, Urbino escorts her home, only to discover that she’s left her keys in the café. Although her sister Giulietta lets her in, she goes back to pick them up and dies of a heart attack. The streets of Venice, both liquid and solid, are packed with tourists for the running of the annual Regatta, which brings Urbino’s leisurely orbit closer to the people closest to the deceased. A regatta party at Barbara’s palazzo brings all the suspects together and yields the final clues.
The mystery is secondary to descriptions of Venice as lovingly detailed as a travel guide.