In Venice the whole world meets: New mystery titles

In Venice the whole world meets,

― Daphne du Maurier, Don’t Look Now and Other Stories

In this week’s newly acquired detective and mystery titles we have not one, but two books which feature the world-famous Italian city of Venice.

The first comes in the form of the queen of crime Agatha Christie’s A Haunting in Venice, a film tie-in to celebrate the release of the new movie. Interestingly, A Haunting in Venice the novel was originally published as Hallowe’en Party and the book’s plot actually takes place in a small English town, not Italy. It is only the film, which heavily relies on the plot of the original novel, that moves the action to the more dramatic and striking location of a villa by a canal in Venice. The other Venice mystery novel is more directly location driven. The Borgia Portrait by David Hewson is a gripping crime thriller about the theft of a painting that quickly turns into a murder investigation.

The atmospheric and beautiful, slowly decaying, canals and buildings of Venice have long proved irresistible to crime and thriller writers. Just a few novels that have used the spectacular city of Venice as the backdrop for dastardly deeds include Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice, first in the hugely popular series which revolves around the death of a conductor at the world famous La Fenice opera house; Georges Simenon’s The Venice Train, a classic crime novel featuring a train journey; and Don’t Look Now by Daphne du Maurier, a superb gothic and spine-chilling thriller horror short story that perfectly  describes the eerier side of the city. The Nicolas Roeg film adaptation of Don’t Look Now is highly recommended too.  Other highly recommended mystery and thriller novels that use Venice as a backdrop include Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin and Alibi by Joseph Kanon.

Below are our other selected titles from this month’s newly acquired detective and mystery titles.

A haunting in Venice / Christie, Agatha
“The inspiration for A Haunting in Venice – now a major motion picture. When a Hallowe’en party turns deadly, it falls to Hercule Poirot to unmask a murderer…” (Adapted from Catalogue)



The Borgia portrait / Hewson, David
“When Arnold Clover is recruited by Lizzie Hawker to help her look into her family inheritance, he cannot begin to guess the journey he is about to embark on. Lizzie’s mother, an Italian countess, disappeared thirty years ago, presumed dead. Her father, a famous, some say infamous, music promoter, has just died and now the family home Ca’ Scacchi, a leaning palazzo in Dorsoduro, has fallen to her. When her mother vanished so too did a priceless painting, supposedly an erotic portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, which has captivated men for generations. When a body is discovered in a hidden crypt beneath the checkerboard courtyard of the palazzo, other secrets are unearthed with it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The devil’s flute murders / Yokomizo, Seishi
“In 1947, Kindaichi is consulted by 20-something Mineko Tsubaki. Her father, Hidesuke, a flautist and composer, disappeared the previous spring, and his corpse was found six weeks later. The official verdict was that Hidesuke poisoned himself, but Mineko and her mother, who believe the corpse was misidentified, suspect he may still be alive. Kindaichi agrees to attend a divination session intended to summon the musician’s spirit and confirm his demise, during which another member of the Tsubaki household is murdered. Now saddled with two cases, Kindaichi must suss out Tsubaki family secrets to prevent even more carnage.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Black river / Roy, Nilanjana S.
“It takes a village to kill a child. The village of Teetarpur outside Delhi, is famous for nothing until one of its children is found dead, hanging from the branch of a Jamun tree. In the largely Hindu village, suspicion quickly falls on an itinerant Muslin man, Mansoor. It’s up to the local policeman Sub-Inspector Ombir Singh to get to the truth. With only one officer under him, and only a single working revolver between them, can he bring justice to a grieving father and an angry village – or will Teetarpur demand vengeance instead? This shockingly powerful literary thriller is set in a brilliantly realised modern India simmering with tension and riven by growing religious intolerance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Mugshots of Manhattan / Brecher, Christin
“Liv Spyers hits the big time when she lands a photography assignment with Grammy Award-winning pop star, the one and only Bisa. A huge fan, Liv is extra thrilled that her new boyfriend, Harry, will join her at the glamorous premiere of Bisa’s debut movie. But when the music icon’s estranged sister, Anna, threatens to turn photo ops into PR disasters during Bisa’s parties and pop-up concerts, Liv finds that the star-studded world she’s joined is filled with images she’d rather delete–especially when Anna winds up dead. Bisa’s inner circle has secrets Liv must expose before she can bring the right mugshot to the police. And while Harry has a mystery of his own to solve, the two must navigate glossy stories that can be cancelled in a snap–before the killer strikes again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Love and murder in the time of Covid / Qiu, Xiaolong
” Chen is debating whether to translate the ‘Wuhan File’ – a diary of life during the Wuhan disaster smuggled to him by a close friend – and expose the CCP’s secrets to the world when to his surprise he is summoned by a high-level party cadre to help investigate a series of murders near a local Shanghai hospital. Under pressure from the Party to reach a quick conclusion and help maintain political stability, Chen investigates, aware that he too has been placed under omnipresent, omnipotent surveillance. And as he works, determined to uncover the truth, no matter what, he risks everything by deciding to translate the Wuhan Files. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlotte Illes is not a detective / Siegel, Katie
“As a kid, Charlotte Illes’ uncanny sleuthing abilities made her a minor celebrity. But in high school, she hung up her detective’s hat and stashed away the signature blue landline in her “office”–aka garage–convinced that finding her adult purpose would be as easy as tracking down missing pudding cups or locating stolen diamonds. Now twenty-five, Charlotte has a nagging fear that she hit her peak in middle school. She’s living with her mom, scrolling through job listings, and her love life consists mostly of first dates. When it comes to knowing what to do next, Charlotte hasn’t got a clue. And then, her old blue phone rings… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Reykjavík / Ragnar Jónasson
“What happened to Lára? Iceland, 1956. Fourteen-year-old Lára decides to spend the summer working for a couple on the small island of Videy, just off the coast of Reykjavík. In early August, the girl disappears without a trace. Time passes, and the mystery becomes Iceland’s most infamous unsolved case. What happened to the young girl? Is she still alive? Did she leave the island, or did something happen to her there? Thirty years later, as the city of Reykjavík celebrates its 200th anniversary, journalist Valur Robertsson begins his own investigation into Lára’s case. But as he draws closer to discovering the secret, and with the eyes of Reykjavík upon him, it soon becomes clear that Lára’s disappearance is a mystery that someone will stop at nothing to keep unsolved.” (Adapted from Catalogue)