He still can spin a yarn, can A.E.W. Mason; this is the story of a strange crime, a strange punishment. Julian, youthful heir to a great name, a great fortune and a house in 18th century England, is cheated of his birthright by a jealous half-sister and her cousin-paramour. But Julian survives, accepts the identity foisted upon him, as child of Italian fisherfolk, and -- while taking advantage of the opportunity for a musical career which a glorious voice affords him, secretly dedicates his life to a pattern of revenge. In this aim he is almost foiled by the jealousy of a fellow musician, who makes his life forfeit on a trumped up charge, in politics ridden Venice. But he escapes, sided by an elderly Englishman, longtime family friend, who recognizes him and keeps his secret, and more by good luck than good management, he escapes from Venice, and eventually gets to England, where he carries out his revenge, slays his successor in a duel, and leaves intact the sanctity of the name and place he loved. Melodrama, a novel of atmosphere and adventure; old school.