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Cast: The Contessa da Capo-Zendrini, wealthy, elegant English widow of an Italian count. Urbino Macintyre, well-named urbane, an expatriate American and author who effectively functions as amateur detective when the situation requires. And the magical city that is a character in herself - Venice. These play the principal parts in Edward Sklepowich's brilliant series of neo-classic mysteries. We visit Venice and the delightful pair again in this sixth episode.
Urbino has just returned from a long stay in Morocco, bringing with him a young painter named Habib. At their reunion, the first order of business is for the Contessa to bring her friend up on the latest gossip. Only after that does she enlist his help in a serious problem; she is being blackmailed, with the threat of a falsely scandalous revelation about her late husband.
Urbino soon finds that the answers he seeks seem to be centered in Burano, the little island town outside of the city proper that has for centuries been the center of Venetian lacemaking. Recently, the picturesque village has been discovered by expatriate European and British artists and writers, whose lunches and cocktail gatherings give Urbino excuses to visit Burano for his investigations. But it is not the chic invaders whose actions are questionable. Urbino is much more interested in Burano's native inhabitants, and in particular one old lace maker (who Habib insists has the evil eye), her surly son, and in Giorgio, the Contessa's boatman. When the old lace maker is murdered, and diplomatic but troubling suspicion touches the Contessa herself, and dark clouds gather around Habib, Urbino has to overcome a reluctance to dig deeper and face whatever unwelcome discoveries he makes.
In Deadly to the Sight, Sklepowich conjures up the spell of Venice, its beauty and its frightening dark alleys, and the color of Burano's island atmosphere. He wittily comments on a vivid canvas of characters --artists and artisans, aristocrats and their servants - an entire population swirling in the Mediterranean light and shadow of the Italian coast, providing opportunities for suspense and drama that will hold the reader from the first page.
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Edward Sklepowich, of Italian heritage on his mother's side, is a native of a small town in Connecticut and has spent much of his life as an expatriate. He has been a Fulbright scholar in American Literature in Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia. Currently a university lecturer in Tunisia, he divides his time among New York, Venice, and Sousse, a former Phoenician town on the Tunisian Mediterranean. He is presently at work on the seventh Urbino Macintyre novel, The Last Gondola.
Venice, the city of courtesans, spies and diplomats, and Burano, the nearby island of lace makers, serve as the backdrops for this atmospheric mystery. Reuniting American expat Urbino Macintyre with his close friend the elegant Barbara, Contessa da Capo-Zendrini, from an earlier adventure (Death in the Palazzo), Sklepowich's sixth book is a tale of blackmail and murder distinguished by its attention to the "magical, winter-haunted city" of canals and multiple allusions to The Arabian Nights. Urbino, who has returned to his much-loved city after a year in Morocco, brings the talented and charming young artist Habib Laroussi back as his protege. The contessa, meanwhile, is being stalked by an old lace maker, whom Habib says has the evil eye and calls a strega a witch. When the old woman dies during a party on Burano, Urbino, convinced she was murdered, wanders the island and the city looking for evidence. When Habib is charged with the murder of the contessa's boatman largely because he's an Arab Urbino's search becomes more intense. Sklepowich offers fine portraits of a dozen men and women (natives and foreigners) who are involved and suspected, though the large cast is hard to keep track of. The author is best at evoking the city itself the fog, the dampness and the chill that hang over its picturesque face. Readers who are fond of Venice may find such details alone worth the price of admission, but others may be disappointed by the routine sleuthing and the strained ending.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Minotaur Books, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0312269552
Book Description Minotaur Books, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312269552
Book Description Minotaur Books, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110312269552
Book Description Minotaur Books. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0312269552 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0087031