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    Review of THE LAST GONDOLA by Edward Sklepowich

    Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, July 2003

    Urbino Macintyre has become obsessed with the idea of writing a biography of a reclusive American living in Venice. His obsession has led to strange dreams about fire and destruction, but hasn't led to much else--until suddenly the recluse invites Urbino to visit him in his Venitian Plazio. What Urbino finds is a strangely deteriorating mansion, a strangely deteriorating man, and a mute servant with burned arms. A feeling of haunting surrounds the ancient home and Urbino feels that he is being made the butt of some monstrous plot, although he can't figure out the object.

    Urbino's other tasks, including the discovery of who has stolen his friend, the Countessa's clothing, take second place to unravelling the mystery of Urbino's fellow American in Venice.

    Author Edward Sklepowich writes knowingly of Venice--both the current (but not modern) city, and the city described by poets and philosophers of the ages. Indeed, much of the pleasure of THE LAST GONDOLA comes not from the mystery, but from the atmosphere of the city, of culture and secret knowledge. Hints of lost poems by Byron add to the feeling of sensation that fill this story. Mystery fans may grow impatient with the slow pace at which the mystery evolves, the strange coincidences that are contorted to make the story, and with Urbino's apparent willingness to leave all morals behind in pursuit of his personal goals, however.

    THE LAST GONDOLA is a strange and interesting story. Readers with a deep interest in the fascinating city of Venice will find that the novel rewards their reading.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 10/27/03

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