For lovers of historical mysteries, Janet Laurence's "Canaletto and the Case of the Westminster Bridge" will be a welcomed addition. For readers who are looking for intriguing suspense, intense plots, clever developments, thought-provoking incidents, and multi-dimensional characters, then this book may be a disappointment. Laurence introduces us to Canaletto, the famed Venetian artist of the eighteenth century, who arrives in England with his personal fortune (he's been told that it is the correct time to make a "killing" (as it were!) by directly investing in English ventures) and his desire to "paint" London. Upon his arrival at the docks, he is nearly killed by a ruffian. Enter Fanny Rooker, who just happens to be meeting the boat. She saves his life twice early on in this book. Fanny is a rather nondescript young woman who has troubles of her own; she is an aspiring artist and is "framed" on a trumped up charge of theft. The two "down and outers" form a team that provides Laurence with her problem solving modus operandi. (Laurence does not permit this relationship to develop into anything romantic, although apparently Canaletto in reality was indeed quite the lady's man, the author hints.) Thus the plot thickens and we find Canaletto, basically, sans fortune and unlikely to find any painting commissions. His woes continue, but William Pitt gives him an offer the Italian cannot refuse--to help Pitt and the English government uncover the fraud that is keeping the newly commissioned Westminster Bridge from being completed, at least on time. Canaletto is instructed to leave no stone unturned in investigating the problems that have arisen from the quarry that provides the material for the bridge. He canvasses closely the usual suspects and with his keen eyes and excellent perspective, solves the case and, well, you get the "picture." Laurence does a very good job of providing us with a good sense of eighteenth century London. Her usage of Canaletto as a fictionalized private investigator not only is incredibly interesting but is also clever. (It does bring to question just which famous historical figure will be next: after all, other authors have already used Ben Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, King Tut, Jane Austen, to name a few to solve fictionalized crimes.) Included in the book are the usual duels, melodramatic romantic interests, and coincidental twists--all in keeping with period writing, of course, as she manages to capture the flair of the time, not only in writing style but in the landscape and atmosphere she portrays. Having Canaletto speak pidgin English sometimes gets in the way (Laurence should transcend the language barrier and simply have him speak naturally!) and (in what is hoped to be the beginning of a series!) developing her characters more fully will indeed enhance her story. The author is credited with "several cookbooks and is also the author of (a) successful culinary mystery series" (now that's food for thought!), according to the book's liner jacket information. Despite the above limitations, the book is heartily recommended. It is a good read; it is an absorbing read. Don't miss it!