JACKET NOTES: The eminent barrister and amateur sleuth Sir Patrick Scott and his novelist wife Virginia return by the Orient Express to the scene of their honeymoon, Venice, the most visited city in the world.
Their host is an old Etonian Italian American, Bernadetto di Montebello, whose family palazzo on the Grand Canal is the fashionable venue for the cultural and social elite of the ancient city.
Effortless hospitality, delicious meals and carousing of' such sophistication as only the very rich achieve--these delights are rudely curtailed when an Australian the Scotts have just met on the Orient Express is found floating in a canal.
And the death soon overshadows the dinner parties at the home of Peggy Aschenheim, New York heiress and art-collector, and the quaffing of champagne at the fabulous Hotel Danieli, where Peggy tries to persuade Philip Bouncer, a Texan worth about half a billion dollars, to donate his art collection to the Metropolitan Museum in her native city.
The Scotts are joined by a Chilean painter, whom Peggy has collected along with his work, and the dowager Lady Hawksworth, a famous beauty, whose husband has left an even larger fortune than Philip Bouncers'; and they come across a full complement of Venetians, from the magistrate investigating the murder--the charming and cosmopolitan Signor Montenari--to some of the seedier characters hanging about in the Piazza San Marco.
The theft of legal papers from Sir Patrick's bedroom at the paIazzo and the sudden fatal collapse of Philip Bouncer pitch Sir Patrick into his habitual role of professional amateur' private eye and into a final dramatic confrontation with a line-up of sinister but distinguished suspects.
Anthony Appiah, the author of' two previous Sir Patrick Scott investigations, matches his Venetian scene with the elegance of his subtle storytelling in this exceptional novel of murder and retribution among the international haut monde.
(© Constable & Company, Ltd.)