Sex, food and real estate inspire 14 hot-blooded new takes on crime in the magical city of Venice.
Of the three, real estate is the most divisive. Most Venetians can no longer afford to live in their own city. Like the heroine of Barbara Baraldi’s “Commissario Clelia Vinci,” they flock to mainland towns like Mestre, where they struggle with the mundane: How to balance work and family? How to share custody with a faithless ex? They contend with dampness and bad plumbing, like the old woman in Michelle Lovric’s “Pantegana.” Or they live in tiny houses near the old ghetto, filled with the odor of other people’s cooking, like the heroine of Francesca Mazzucato’s “Little Sister,” who finds it harder and harder to leave her cramped home. It’s the tourists who enjoy the beauty of the canals and the palazzos. In “Venice Aphrodisiac,” Peter James shows how one illicit rendezvous can become a lifelong obsession with the city. Sexual energy spirals out of control in Isabella Santacroce’s “Desdemona Undicesima.” And a tourist finds Venice the endpoint of his romantic dreams in editor Jakubowski’s “Lido Winter.” Venetians have their own take on the visitors who flock to their city, like Signora Adele, who finds her own special solution in Maria Tronca’s “Tourists for Supper.” But Adele isn’t the only Venetian with a hearty appetite, as a policeman learns in Michael Gregorio’s “Laguna Blues.”
Rather than crimes of passion, this collection focuses on the passion of crime, painting its noir in robust tones rather than gritty gray.