Books by Edward Sklepowich

THE VEILS OF VENICE by Edward Sklepowich
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

"Any author who loves Venice can't be all bad, no matter how lacking he is in subtlety or how clumsily he handles suspense. Never mind. Relax, have a cappuccino and enjoy the scenery."
Venetian eccentrics populate a decrepit palazzo. Read full book review >
FRAIL BARRIER by Edward Sklepowich
Released: Jan. 1, 2008

"The mystery is secondary to descriptions of Venice as lovingly detailed as a travel guide."
Did the three loosely connected Venetian residents dead within a few weeks really fall prey to natural causes? Read full book review >
DEADLY TO THE SIGHT by Edward Sklepowich
Released: Feb. 18, 2002

"Solid plotting can't overcome the flat, formal writing and humorless characters. In this sixth Urbino outing (Death in the Palazzo, 1997, etc.), the author captures the grandeur of Venice but neither its sensuality nor its mystery."
Writer and amateur sleuth Urbino Macintyre is returning to his beloved Venice with protégé Habib Laroussi, a brooding young Moroccan artist, in tow. Urbino refers to Habib as his "companion"; everyone else, including the reader, is left to speculate (and do they ever) on the exact meaning of that euphemism. Urbino reenters the dazzling social orbit of his oldest and dearest friend Barbara, the Countess da Capo-Zendrini, who opens her palazzo to Habib but privately warns Urbino of the young man's dark side. Indeed, Habib often disappears for hours at a time, returning to Urbino with evasive explanations and guilty eyes. The Countess has little time for talk, however, since she's busy being smitten by handsome new boatman Giorgio. Glamorous friends float through: Oriana, a gossipy fashion plate in oversized eyeglasses, divorcing indifferent husband Filippo; Frieda, a tall handsome German art enthusiast; and Marino Polidoro, a "gnome-like" gallery owner. But la dolce vita is soured by the visits of elderly lace-maker Nina Crivelli, who spooks all with her gnarled presence and ominous pronouncements (think Maria Ouspenskaya). Habib calls her a witch; the Countess is convinced the crone is trying to blackmail her over family secrets. At length Nina turns up murdered, a piece of lace stuffed into her mouth, and Urbino abandons the book he's working on to ferret out the killer. Read full book review >
DEATH IN THE PALAZZO by Edward Sklepowich
Released: March 4, 1997

Once again writer-sleuth Urbino Macintyre, an American expatriate in Venice, is embroiled in the affairs of widowed, English-born Barbara, Contessa da Capo-Zendrini (Black Bridge, 1995, etc.). Barbara is now hosting a weekend party (in the midst of a vicious wind-and-rain storm) aimed at a reconciliation with the Zenos—her late husband's family—a party during which she's also planning to unveil her portrait, painted by well-known artist Gemma Bellini-Rhys, of the Zeno family. Gemma's son Robert, a medievalist, and his fiancÇe are also there, along with (among others) the family matriarch Marialuisa, her daughter Bambina, and the family doctor Luigi Vasco. An unexpected guest is Molly Wybrow, a self-proclaimed mystic who's been invited by Barbara's twin cousins, Viola and Sebastian Neville, who shared an Orient Express journey from England with the purported seer. Molly herself wastes no time evoking events that go back 50 some years—events involving a series of strange deaths in the palazzo's Caravaggio bedroom, long locked and unused. Barbara reluctantly opens the room for use by her uninvited guest, but before the weekend is over, the palazzo is isolated by the storm, Molly is dead—conceivably by accident- -while the life of another hangs in the balance. Matters are made more complex by a stolen brooch, a slashed canvas, and the scent of Shalimar. Eventually, of course, Urbino sorts it all out in his usual wordy, desultory style. By then the patient reader, however, besieged by fancy names, obscure family connections, a labyrinthine plot, and endless weather reports, may not care. Read full book review >
BLACK BRIDGE by Edward Sklepowich
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

Another tangled Venice-based tale revolving around American expatriate writer/sleuth Urbino Macintyre and his Venetian connection Barbara, the Contessa da Capo-Zendrini (Liquid Desires, 1993, etc.). Here, Barbara is becoming emotionally involved with Bobo, an aging but still charismatic actor endowed with his own titleBarone Casarotto-Re. When Bobo receives a series of unsigned threats, Barbara asks Urbino to investigate. Then matters turn much more serious with the murders of Marie Quimper and Hugh Moss, a young couple doing the high-end social scene with Barbara's friend Contessa Oriana Borelli and newest lover John Flint, an ex-model and self-proclaimed art consultant. There are more murky characters on stageHarriet Kolb, Barbara's homely secretary; Marco Zeoli, a director of the nearby Abano spa; Bobo's brother-in-law Orlando, still mourning his wife Rosa, dead ten years; and a host of others. Meanwhile, Urbino fumbles his way through a maze of jumbled relationships, finally linking some feeble motivation with the unconvincing villain of the piece. Only the author's Venice-scape saves this one from total ennui. It could send lovers of the city straight to the nearest travel agent. For puzzle-lovers, however, a washout. Read full book review >
LIQUID DESIRES by Edward Sklepowich
Released: May 24, 1993

When Flavia Brollo, a young Venetian model, claims to be the daughter of the Conte da Capo-Zendrini— the late husband of Urbino Macintyre's great friend Countess Barbara—Urbino (Death in a Serene City, 1990; Farewell to the Flesh, 1991) promises Barbara that he'll look into her story. But no sooner has Urbino begun to investigate Flavia's family—especially Flavia's aunt Violetta Volpi, Barbara's old enemy—than Flavia is discovered drowned, and the police write her death off as a suicide. Still, nagging questions remain. Who told Flavia that she was the Conte's daughter? Is the story true or not? What does Flavia's death have to do with the recent rape-murder of her friend Nicolina Ricci, and with Dal°'s painting The Birth of Liquid Desires, which Flavia had found so fascinating? As languidly chatty as Urbino's first two cases (the characters never tell the truth when a lie will provoke another scene later), while the gelato flows as freely as the Grand Canal—and a lot more freely than the intricate story. Read full book review >
FAREWELL TO THE FLESH by Edward Sklepowich
Released: Nov. 21, 1991

The stabbing of photographer Valentine Gibbon at the height of the Venetian carnevale seems tailor-made for amateur sleuth Urbino Macintryre and his friend and confidante Barbara, Countess da Capo- Zendrini (Death in a Serene City, 1990), especially after revelations about Val's tirelessly sub rosa financial and sexual activities implicate his current lover Hazel Reeve; Barbara's old schoolmate Berenice Pillow, and her gay stepson Tonio Vico; Dora Spaak, Val's fellow-lodger among the nuns at Casa Crispina, and her brother Nicholas and mother Stella Maris Spaak; and self-styled spiritualist Xenia Campi, who spends all her time passing out leaflets condemning the commercialism of the carnevale (``Venice is not Disney World!''). As before: lots of masks, genteel aspersions, red herrings, leisurely interrogations, lovers' confessions, and dollops of high culture. Just the thing for readers who think Ngaio Marsh died too young. Read full book review >