Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Closed Book, by Mary Hoffman

"A Closed Book," by Mary Hoffman, in Venice Noir, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Akashic Press, 2012.

Jakubowski saved the best for last in this book.  In Hoffman's story an Englishwoman visits Venice, chooses a gondolier, and starts peppering him with questions about the city's most notorious crimes.   She's working on a collection of short stories, she explains, but something about her makes Taddeo, the gondolier, quite uncomfortable. 

When the tourist is found murdered in her hotel room Taddeo is the only suspect and is promptly arrested.  His fellow gondolieri don't believe in his guilt and conduct their own investigation.  The reader knows more than the characters and it is fun to watch as the net closes in. 

I like the subtle way in which the underlying motive -- the crimes behind the crime -- is left below the surface.  We can figure out what is in the victim's short story about Venice; the details are left to our imagination.

A very nice piece of work.

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