Her Deadly Mischief by Beverle Graves Myers

mischiefReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

It’s opening night at the famous Teatro San Marco. The audience, with their colorful Carnevale masks are in their seats, and Tito Amado, the famous castrato, is back on stage singing one of the leads. He is bringing the house to tears with his powerful performance. Yes, he can see the rapture on the faces as he scans the audience. But then, right in the middle of one of his best performances of his career, a woman is pushed over the railing from a private box and falls to the theater floor. Bedlam ensues. With this grand opening, readers are swept away to 1742 Venice in Her Deadly Mischief.

As it turns out, the victim was courtesan living under an assumed name covering her Jewish roots. She was involved with the son of a well known glass maker who, in an effort to raise the family’s station in society, had arranged for that very son to marry into a noble family. Add in the most frivolous, but dangerous of bets made by the victim with another woman of questionable reputation, and the list of possible murderers is a long one indeed.

Like all of Myers’ Tito Amato books, this one gives readers more than just a great mystery to solve. In fact, while the mysteries are very well crafted, with well placed clues to sort out, it’s the way the characters are used to bring Venice to life that makes this series so wonderful to read. For example, in this book, Liya, Tito’s wife, takes readers with her to the Jewish Ghetto to visit her estranged family for the first time in years. Through her visits with her family, readers learn a great deal about life in the Jewish Ghetto including where the people have come from and why they are in Venice. Readers also get a fascinating first hand look at the famous glass of Venice-from how the glass was made to why the artisans were so respected in society.

Unlike most books that are part of a series that needs to be read in order, this particular book of the Tito Amado series could easily be read by someone who has not read any of the previous books. While the main characters are reoccurring, the plot of Her Deadly Mischief is fairly self contained. There are a few threads that go back to Tito and Liya’s earlier adventures, but enough history is given in the plot development for a reader to enjoy this book without feeling the least bit lost. Also, Myers has included a handy page at the beginning of the book with a time line of important events in Tito’s life. This is particularly helpful for people who have read the entire series, but can’t quite keep the people and events straight from book to book.

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