I’ve been getting around to reading some of the work from fellow Crime Cymru members. Started with this one as I usually read UK based books, and this was a little further away.
A game of cross and double-cross in Venice, one of the most beautiful cities on earth.
From his office on the Street of the Assassins, Nathan Sutherland enjoys a steady but unexciting life translating Italian DIY manuals. All this changes dramatically when he is offered a large sum of money to look after a small package containing an extremely valuable antique prayer book illustrated by a Venetian master. But is it a stolen masterpiece – or a brilliant fake?
Unknown to Nathan, from a vast mansion on the Grand Canal twin brothers Domenico and Arcangelo Moro, motivated by nothing more than mutual hatred, have been playing out a complex game of art theft for twenty years. And now Nathan finds himself unwittingly drawn into their deadly business …
Nathan Sutherland is an Englishman aboard. In Venice – unsurprisingly, given the title. Nathan is a man alone, sitting in his Venetian flat not translating lawn mower instructions, not cooking, drinking too much, and getting bored with his position of honorary consul and helping tourists find lost directions, lost passport and their way into the hands of the Venice Police where there is in fact, very little he can do for them. The thing he does really well is feed the cat, but then with Gramsci, he would have to.
What is surprising is how Nathan gets sucked into a world of art crime. Luckily, he knows someone. Turns out, he knows several someones actually. But in this case, Federica, the art restorer, seems to be one of the most useful. Not to mention, probably the prettiest.
There is a game afoot, and one that has rather escalated from the version that turns up in most childhoods.
The story is intelligent and interesting, and it shows of its landscape well, the physical one of Venice, and the psychological one of Italian culture as seen through the eyes of an Englishman.
This is the first on the Nathan Sutherland books, and a good start it is too. Would recommend.
There are references to some great music in the first part of the book too.
The fact that Gramsci reminds me of Greebo, the cat who runs Nanny Og and everyone else ragged in Terry Pratchett’s books, actually helped make the whole thing more amusing.
About the Author
Philip Gwynne Jones was born in South Wales in 1966, and has since lived in Holland, Germany and Scotland. He first came to Italy in 1994, when he spent some time working for the European Space Agency in Frascati, a job that proved to be less exciting than he had imagined.
He spent twenty years in the IT industry before realising he was congenitally unsuited to it, and now works as a teacher, writer and translator. He lives in Venice with his wife Caroline.
He is the author of the Nathan Sutherland series, set in contemporary Venice, and his books have been translated into Italian, German and Bulgarian. The fifth book in the series, “The Venetian Legacy” will follow in April 2021. His travelogue, “To Venice With Love” is now available.
He enjoys cooking, art, classical music and opera; and can occasionally be seen and heard singing bass with the Cantori Veneziani.
Philip is published by Constable, and be contacted at https://philipgwynnejones.com/