Tour Guides and Hon Cons…

I was back at Laguna Libre last Saturday for a presentation of Il Ponte dei Delitti along with fellow Venice-based author Gregory Dowling, presenting his second novel in the Alvise Marangon series The Four Horsemen. The advertisement referred to two capolavori – “masterpieces” – which might have been over-egging it a bit given that that puts us in competition with The Aspern Papers, but neither of us were going to complain.

Gregory and I found very different solutions to the problem of “how do you write a detective story in Venice without making the protagonist a detective?” I made Nathan Sutherland the Honorary Consul. Gregory made Alvise Marangon a cicerone, or tour guide to the great(ish) and the good(ish) on the grand tour of the 18th century which is, frankly, a brilliant idea.

His exposition of the Venice of the period is skilfully and subtly done, as Alvise draws you into his world. He’s an engaging protagonist : an accidental hero, slightly down-at-heel, living by his wits and possessed of a dry humour without ever falling into the cliche of the “cheeky chappy”. I think he’d get on well with Nathan. A shame it could never happen. Unless, of course, I manage to sell that Doctor Who script I’ve been working on…

Until this happens, I highly recommend both The Four Horsemen and its prequel Ascension to you. And if you really want to know what we look like, well, here are some photographs…


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