It’s a Mystery: The Thief of Venice, by Jane Langton

3.0 out of 5 stars Acqua alta

Venice, city of mystery, filled with great art, ancient religious relics, churches, and, sometimes, sea water. In The Thief of Venice, Homer attends a rare book conference and Mary sets out to acquaint herself with the dreamlike city. Her dreams turn into nightmares when she is pursued by a handsome but nefarious oncologist whom you know, eventually will turn on her. The subplot, about the conference director’s quest to examine relics from San Marco for authenticity, also involves a love interest, and a very precocious little girl. The denouement, as both threads converge, is a satisfying one.

Author Langton is hard put to stick with her literary theme in this outing, but she certainly is spot-on with her characters, not only Homer and Mary but also the ancillary figures: the overbearing American mother-in-law, the greedy doctor, the new Procurator of St. Mark’s. The Thief of Venice is not one of the stronger tales in this series, being somewhat fragmented with its rapidly switching chapters and subplots. Suffice it to say that there are two current thieves and quite a few historic ones. But it’s a light, fun romp through Piazza San Marco and some of the lesser known neighborhoods of La Serenissima, with a smattering of history and culture.

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