In Volker’s debut mystery, an American financial expert unravels a web of mystery, corruption, and danger hidden in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
In 1992, when Count Sergio Corrin is stabbed to death at a fundraising gala, half of Venice, Italy, mourns him as a philanthropist and city father while the other half seems to wish that they’d killed him themselves. Anna Lottol, an FBI agent specializing in exposing money laundering schemes, made the mistake of having an affair with Corrin, discovering too late that he used everyone to his own advantage. When he tried to blackmail her with compromising photos, she traveled to Venice to plead for mercy only to find herself the prime suspect when Corrin is murdered. With the help of her American journalist friend, Margo, Anna tries to prove her innocence by launching her own investigation into the crime. Along the way, she explores the corrupt underside of Venetian society, shady financial deals, romance gone wrong, and the enduring legacy of the destruction of the Incan Empire. But as she gets closer to the truth, she repeatedly finds herself in mortal danger. The subtitle of Volker’s novel signals the importance of the Venetian setting to her compelling, intricate narrative. Her lush descriptions evoke the city’s glories (“the glittering swath of Venice’s watery arteries and veins narrowing to wispy capillaries, shining in the sun”) while skillfully building an ominous tone (“The oar of a gondola in the distance hit the water in a frenzy, making Anna think of the flapping wings of a drowning seabird”). All the mysteries and problems of Anna’s life seem to wrap up a bit too neatly, but readers will forgive this, as they also receive an engaging guided tour through ancient crimes and modern vice in one of Europe’s most graceful cities.
A riveting whodunit that makes full use of its dramatic setting.