Friday, June 30, 2023

Murder in Venice by Martha Bond (A Lottie Sprigg Cozy Mystery) Book One

Publication Date: February 16, 2023

Length: 202 pages

Cozy mysteries have become my go to when the news gets to be too much. There are so many series to choose from now and tons set in the 1920's. The covers are always bright and colorful and just draw me in. You can't be in a bad mood when reading one....they are just fun! They can often be read in a day or two and don't require a ton of concentration which is a good thing when I am super busy. This latest series by Martha Bond has our heroine Lottie Sprigg hopping from one beautiful city to another and she always manages to find another murder to solve. 

In Book One Lottie moves from maid to companion for the wealthy, world traveling Mrs. Moore, who is following a very eligible bachelor, Prince Manfred of Bavaria, throughout Europe, hoping to snag him and his money for herself. They are staying in Venice and Lottie is in awe of her luck....exploring the beautiful city and gaining the attention of the bellboy, Stefano. When Lottie and Mrs. Moore are invited to the opera by famous singer, Amedo Moretti, they accept, hoping to run into the Prince. After the opera they dine with Moretti and have a lovely time. 

Unfortunately, later that evening Moretti is murdered and found floating in the Grand Canal outside the hotel where both Lottie and Moretti are staying. Everyone is baffled, including the local inspector, as Moretti didn't seem to have many immediate enemies. Lottie becomes attached to Moretti's little dog, Rosetta, and feels she owes it to her to find her owner's killer. With the help of Stefano, they begin to work together with the scant clues they have.

As Lottie watches and explores the city around her and talks to those staying in the hotel she begins to see Moretti might not have been the person she originally thought. He has some personal history which might explain his demise. When another man, Colonel Pickering, who was seen meeting with Moretti just hours before his murder is also killed, Lottie just knows the deaths are related. 

More determined than ever to solve the two mysteries, she must be careful not to be targeted herself and also must deal with the wrath of the Inspector who doesn't want her interfering. Add to that a separate case of an apparent dog snatcher on the loose and a frightening, masked shadowy figure prowling the streets of Venice, dubbed the Plague Doctor, Lottie is now taking real risks. Can she find the culprit before either she, Stefano, or Rosie are one of the next victims?

This was an enjoyable read and I really liked Lottie's character. She is smart and kind without being too naive. She is deferential to her employer but realistic enough to know when to stick up for herself. Her interaction with Stefano is cute and they have a nice budding romance going. Her talks with and about Rosie the dog are a nice touch and the descriptions of Venice make you feel like you are there on the river with them. 

It is stretching things a bit to call this book "historical" as it honestly could have been set in modern times. There were very few details that made if feel like the 1920's but that didn't take away from the story. The mystery was good, though not especially intricate, although the villain was kept decently hidden until the end. If you read it for pure fun, you won't be disappointed. I will continue with the next book and love how we get to visit a new, exotic city with Lottie  each time.

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