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The Dante Trap

by Arnaud Delalande

Pietro Luigi Viravolta de Lansalt, alias The Black Orchid, languishes in a noisome dungeon; next door is Casanova. Pietro is Venice’s most dashing swordsman, lover, secret agent and bon viveur but now faces charges that could lead to his execution. Fortunately, he has at least one powerful friend who has told the Doge that he is the only man to unmask The Chimera is a horrifying murderer whose first (but by no means last) crime was to kill an actor in a gruesome yet extravagant style. Pietro is soon to discover, as the bodies start to pile up, that his adversary is the kingpin of a vast conspiracy hoping to end the fading glory of La Serenissima…

Mix Dennis Wheatley with Paul Doherty, throw in a bit of James Bond and add some period details and voila, you have this delightfully readable tale. I honestly didn’t know people still wrote books quite like this, and what fun that they do! There are not only murders and conspiracies in here, but black magic and all the spectacle of Venice during Carnivale. You can even find out all about Venice and its history reading this, as interspersed with the action are plenty of facts, some of them presented in a rather obvious way but germane to understanding the uniqueness of Venice. As well as the plot and history lesson, the author paints a convincing picture of this inimitable city at its decadent height, replete with masks, palazzos, gondolas, sinister cults, spies, dungeons and dangerous politics. I am unsure whether this is the first in a new series, but I do hope so. In a genre over-filled with certain places and time periods, it is always a treat to come across something new.

The Book
Weidenfeld & Nicholson (Orion)
11 June 2007
Historical Crime - 1756, Venice, Italy
More at
NOTE: Some gory scenes

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2007