Soho gallery owner Rhea Buerklin (Stilled Life, 1988) zips over to Venice, at the invitation of self-made tycoon Verle Rivers, to discuss the disposition of his murdered son's art. While there, she not only pries into the loathsome Jodie's strangulation, but into the murder of his black model girlfriend Lisa—his brother Henry's former lover. Also milling about are: Verle's officious right-hand man, Wallace Darlington; his much younger Harvard MBA wife Babs; her two bodyguards; and, in codeine-induced visions seen only by Henry, the dead Jodie, the dead Lisa, and Henry's dead mom. Suave, sophisticated Venice cop Lago shares clues (and more) with Rhea, while her stateside beau, New York cop John Tennyson, digs into the suspects' finances, wills, careers, etc. Drugs, blackmail, revenge, and sibling rivalry are all motives Rhea explores as she sprints about Venice trying to make sense of it all. Finally unable legally to prove whodunit, Rhea is horrified to learn of one suspect's explosive solution to dealing with the guilty. Curiously little artfulness here, although Venice manages to strut its stuff nicely midst these cardboard tourist interlopers.
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