- Book: The Venetian Game
- Location: Venice
- Author: Philip Gwynne Jones
The Venetian Game is a quite excellent book for TripFiction readers. A great thriller very firmly set in Venice. The canals, buildings, art and geography of the city all come shining through… an ideal read for anyone heading out for a Spring break. Philip Gwynne Jones has lived in Venice for a number of years – and it shows. There is even a map at the beginning of the book to help orientate you.
Nathan is a translator (of exciting things like lawn mower manuals) and honorary British Consul in the city – his main duties include the provision of new passports to tourists who have had theirs stolen. One day a stranger comes into his office and asks him to store in his safe, just for a couple of days, a small packet. He offers €10,000 for Nathan to perform the service, but Nathan refuses on the grounds it may contain drugs or stolen goods. The package nevertheless finds its way to him via a circuitous route (placed in a left luggage locker with his name on it…) and he opens it to find a small and beautiful book that turns out to be Life of the Virgin with illustrations by the very famous 15th Century artist, Giovanni Bellini. Is it genuine or is it a fake? If genuine, it is worth a small fortune. He decides to hold on to it until Montgomery (the stranger) comes to collect it… he will then probe a bit further. Meanwhile he is lured by a false call for his translation services to see an old and rich Venetian called Archangelo Mori. Mori claims that Nathan has something (the book) that has been stolen from him and ‘asks for’ its return. He offers €10,000 for its safe re-instatement in his collection… So, Nathan is posed with a difficult question… Neither Montgomery nor Mori seem people to argue with or to offend. But he can’t please both of them. Whose (if either’s…) €10,000 should he take?
He decides to enlist help and investigate further. The help is art restorer, Federica (who is not, honestly, his girlfriend) and his best friend, Dario. They set out to find out what is what, and to solve the mystery. The situation gets more dangerous as the story progresses. There are beatings and dead bodies. It all, though, seems to be part of sinister game that is being played – a game to which Nathan, Federica, and Dario are not privy. The book moves to a thrilling and pulsating conclusion…
As I said at the beginning, The Venetian Game absolutely fits the TripFiction message of ‘see a location through the eyes of an author’. Venice really comes to life – and not just the main tourist areas, but also the back ‘streets’ and places a visitor would not normally venture. Plus Philip is entirely knowledgable about the buildings and art of the city. It forms a perfect background to a very well worked thriller.