My original five books (the Francis Oughterard series, starting with A Load of Old Bones) were really one long saga involving a panic-stricken vicar who had absentmindedly murdered one of his female parishioners. But having ended that quintet I embarked on something mildly more normal (though not remarkably so) with a young woman as a protagonist plus two rather camp associates Felix and Cedric. Set in 1950s London this was A Little Murder which was published last year.

The current novel, The Venetian Venture (pub. Allison & Busby), is an immediate continuation of this and features the same three protagonists. Thus barely recovered from the scandal of her aunt’s shocking murder, Rosy Gilchrist now finds herself embroiled in fresh skulduggery, this time in Venice where she has been sent by Dr Stanley, her eccentric British Museum boss, to locate a rare edition of Horace’s Odes. Relishing the prospect of a little Italian art and gaiety, Rosy is faced with more than she had bargained for: a bizarre blend of grisly events, flaky people and personal danger. Her quest is not entirely helped by the presence of the floral Felix and suave Cedric and their protégé Caruso, an amiable basset hound. Their sojourn in a crumbling Venetian palazzo culminates in scenes at once fearful and ludicrous.

I like to think the tale is quietly entertaining – but it is best read with a pinch of salt and a large gin & tonic.

The Venetian Venture is published by Allison & Busby

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