Lady Emily Hargreaves, accompanied by her husband Colin, is on her way to Venice to help a childhood friend named Emma Callum. A better description would be a childhood nemesis --- Emily and Emma were not exactly the best of friends as children, and Emily did her best to distance herself from Emma whenever possible. However, Emma has asked for her help and Emily can't turn down that plea, even when it comes from Emma. Years ago, Emma ran off with an Italian Count and caused a bit of a scandal at home, but is now in desperate need of Emily's detective skills. Her father-in-law has been murdered in the home she shares with her husband, who is the main suspect but has disappeared. She needs Emily to find the murderer and clear him.
Wary of Emma's motives but still willing to help, Emily and Colin begin their investigation and Emily soon finds herself fascinated by Venice, a city she has never visited before. With few clues besides an old ring to go on, Emily enlists the help of a Venetian historian and his daughter, Donata, to help her navigate the city and open a few palazzo doors for her to ask questions. With the help of Donata, Emily stumbles upon a centuries-old love story that tore two individuals and their families apart. The same feud is still going strong, which doesn't help Emily when she needs questions answered. She begins searching frantically through libraries and family trees for any clue that will help solve the case, while Colin begins a search for Emma's missing husband.
This is my second Lady Emily mystery, and I'm becoming addicted. I need to plan some reading time to go back and start this series from the beginning. While these books do stand on their own, the characters and settings are so good that I want to spend more time in this world. Emily and Colin are incredibly likable characters, and the settings are so lovely that you want to step into the pages. Tasha Alexander does a fantastic job here with the crumbling palazzos, dusty old books, and gondolas gliding along the canals.
What I liked most about the mystery was the way it was wrapped up in a love story a la Romeo and Juliet. Told through letters interspersed throughout the book, the centuries-old love story starts to show up in Emily's mystery in unexpected ways. In the end, Alexander wraps up this one nicely with a sneak peek of what's ahead for Emily and Colin.
I love that I was able to fall into the novel and get lost in the mystery, the romance, and the city of Venice. I was pulled into the story very early and didn't want to leave. There's just enough of everything in this book to make me a happy reader. Obviously, I cannot wait for Emily's next adventure.
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski