To say I devoured the latest Nathan Sutherland adventure would be a huge understatement.
I’d pre-ordered the Kindle version on Amazon (sadly, Covid means fewer physical books are being shipped out to India, where I live) and at exactly one second past midnight on publication day it was delivered.
And less than 2 days later, to my great dismay, I’d finished it – despite those 2 days involving hours of solid driving down from the hills back to Delhi. When everyone else settled down for a chat after the drive, I curled up with Nathan and the unflappable Fede, and read the book far too quickly.
Oh joy of joys, Nathan & the lovely Dottoressa get married. Hey! This happens in the opening pages of the book, so absolutely doesn’t count as plot-spoiling. In “The Venetian Legacy” we are reunited with their grumpy, demanding cat Gramsci. And familiar faces like their friends Dario and his little family, and Ed the barista. But these friends play a smaller role than in earlier books, since much of the action in this story takes place on Fede and Nathan’s honeymoon.
What is wonderful about this series is that in each one Mr. Gwynne Jones shows us new aspect of Venice, and this book is no exception. Much of the story takes place on the island of Pellestrina, where the couple goes to honeymoon, and now this still quite inaccessible island is well & truly on my “To Be Visited” list.
Nathan and Fede find themselves inexorably drawn into dealing with a cast of unsavoury characters, and this is by far the most violent and tense book thus far. There are moments when you wonder quite how much more violence and death can the Hon. British Consul handle. The underbelly of Italian organised crime is laid bare for us to see, and how its tendrils have woven themselves into every facet of Venetian life.
But alongside the more violent moments, we have plenty of time to join Fede and Nathan as they have their coffees, and sip their cocktails, and enjoy their Venetian food.
Oh those Negronis…
Reading the book on Good Friday, I was touched by the following incident, when Nathan is shown a monstrance in a little church in Malamocco:
“I took it from him, and held it up, turning it so as to allow the sunshine to stream through the crystal, my face just centimetres from a thorn that had pierced the flesh of Christ.
‘Brought from the Holy Land by pilgrims in the eighth century. St John took it from the foot of the cross, before the Saviour’s internment. It is the most precious thing we have.’
I looked at the tiny fragment encased in crystal, and realised that I did not believe a single word of what Don Francesco was saying. And that thought made me just a little bit sad.”
And yes, Malamocco is also now on the “To Be Visited” list.
A super read. A very exciting, and at moments heart-stopping read.
This book is less about the “touristy” Venice and more about the less well-known, seedier side of this amazing city.
Absolutely, 100% recommended.
This is such a great series.
And now to wait for the next book…