Love and Death in Venice
by Bonnie Hoover Braendlin
Langdon Street Press

"As she stood there, tears welling up, she suddenly felt his presence, as if he were looking over her shoulder at the abstract figures intertwined on the blue sky and brown earth background."

A sojourn to Venice to help escape the past, turns into a summer of murder and mystery for two American teachers. Trying to put distance between difficult events that have already disrupted their lives, they become immersed in memorable events that will stay with them forever. Braendlin begins her novel with the brutal beating of a Nigerian girl who has been sold into sex slavery. The man inflicting the heinous punishment will later play a prominent role in the affairs of two women: a woman who has come to do what she can to help others forced into lives of despair, and a woman who is doing the best she can to deal with irreparable loss.

Ariadne has accepted a summer teaching position at an American International College. She hopes it will renew her zest for life that was tragically torn from her with the accidental death of her husband. Her friend, Judith, has tagged along and secured a role with an organization providing refuge for abused women. She too has suffered a loss. Her lover, Zoe, recently left her—leaving heartache in her wake. Before long, both women are swept into a series of kaleidoscopic events that involve human trafficking, art theft, murder, police shootouts and more. As the peril escalates, so too does the opportunity for romance, but it is not without danger as well.

The author’s plot moves along swiftly, pausing here and there to extol the magnificent beauty and history of one of Italy’s most famous cities. The style is much like the television series Murder, She Wrote—a picturesque potboiler with a PG rating for occasional profanity. If you’re looking for a thriller with a travelogue thrown in, you just might want to make this voyage to Venice.

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