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Dead in Venice

Crime Grant Finalist
Narrated by: Deryn Edwards
Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)
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Summary

Bella Tyson is a famous 40-something crime writer suffering from writer’s block ever since a bitter divorce two years before. When a fan offers her the use of an apartment in Venice, Bella jumps at it, hoping a change of scene will have her writing again. Once there, she soon meets Will, a charming Englishman, who shows her around the city. 

Enchanted by both Will and her new surroundings, Bella decides to write a supernatural murder mystery and begins researching local legends and the city’s more sinister side, including an illicit visit to the island of Poveglia, spooky former home of Venice’s asylum. Soon Bella uncovers more than she has bargained for and finds herself enmeshed in a series of gruesome real-life murders that uncannily mirror the legends she is researching. 

As she and Will join forces to investigate, real life and local lore merge disconcertingly - for nothing in Venice turns out to be what seems, including Will....

©2018 Fiona Leitch (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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Dead in Venice

Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch is a funny dark crime tale. It's about Bella a very human and relatable character, who's flaws make her come alive for me. Will is another character that I found easy to believe in.

The other great character in the book is Venice and here Fiona uses language to create pictures that take me there.

The story has both light and dark parts deal well with it's subject matter. It also has a lot of funny moments that help build the characters so that I cared what happened to them.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Excellent.

This has movie written all over it. Oh, all right. SAID all over it. But that's the thing. Such a good story that I can see it all. The Italian lady with the keys? I am seeing an Italian version of Julie Walters as Mrs Overall but with attitude. This book is so good. So good that it should be a book. Well done Fiona Leitch. Brilliant!!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Undecided on Unique Unsettling Many-Mooded Mystery

CHIAROSCURO!!! This appropriately enough, would be the best word to sum up this Italian set book - light and dark - comedy and tragedy - lighthearted flippant quips meet the grisliest hard hitting topics in, what seemed to me. often an uneasy marriage of convenience.
At first I thought this seemed like an Agatha Raisin reboot with a lot of Jane Fallon-like intrigue told in a comedic conversational lighthearted tone - then just when you are settled in for a fun filled frivolous romp ... everything got very dark - also I suppose a metaphor of Venice itself.
I adore thrillers set in foreign and especially glamorous locations such as Emily Barr's excellent mysteries and so I was really on board for this Venetian adventure but also enjoyed the establishing chapters set in the UK. It all started off very frothy and girlie and I enjoyed the description of life as a successful murder mystery writer - not so keen on a lot of the cringe worthy puns but over all I did like the chummy banter and humorous internal dialogue - could have done with a LOT less of the F words which seemed a little incongruous throughout the book and jarred with me.
And so to the crimes and mystery segment - loved the atmospheric settings but I did find the lack of any procedural protocol at crime scenes did break the spell for me with an un-researched casualness which took away any sense of realism as the book took a turn for more Nancy Drew than CSI territory. Again the mix of horrific sadistic murder with dreadful puns did not sit well with me and made realise how artful MC Beaton is to mix humour and murder mystery with Agatha Raisin without leaving a nasty taste in the mouth. Perhaps if the murders had been less shocking or the humour more subtle it would have also been more believable and less stomach churning pantomime.
I have to say I was not a fan of the romantic interest as he was made out to be so very dull. Hard as I tried I just could not muster up much enthusiasm for him, but perhaps that is because the only physical description was 5'6, mid brown haired and balding - after that I just could not shake Crimplene as a subtext and pictured him from then on in some sort of Man at C&A vintage beige Safari suit sticking out like a sore thumb in this otherwise stylish setting. I liked the way he was quintessentially an English Man Abroad - but did he really have to be painted as just one step away from the sock and sandal brigade?
Then about half way through the book took a very dark turn and got into some very heavy topics related to the murders and I have to say, for me, it felt awkward - just as if some funny chatty lady you met at a bus stop suddenly started talking about a horrible medical procedure - it just felt like a bizarre change of pace and style for the book as it then went on to handle some very gritty topics.
I enjoyed the back story to the murders and the reveals and guessed the rather unbelievable twist at the end. I also enjoyed the supernatural aspect and humorous ghoulish dream subplots and I have to say the whole book and plot was unique and very different to any murder mystery I have read.
It is a relatively short book at 6 hours and 4 minutes but it felt like the perfect length for this style of mystery and I did enjoy it but it might not have held my attention had it been much longer.
I thought the narration was excellent and I would love to hear more Audio books narrated by the very talented Deryn Edwards who made the book a delight to listen too though I am always a bit thrown when foreign locations are pronounced with such authentic gusto instead of a more a lower key Anglicised version - I would have thought that Deryn was fluent in Italian except when it came to the odd mention of the Italian police which she pronounced "Politzee" numerous times instead of "Pole- it-zeee- ahh" - but this was the only flaw in a complete gem of a performance which I really appreciated and really enhanced the many moods of the story.
Did I Enjoy Dead in Venice? Yes as at no time did I consider giving up on it and it gripped me from the start. Well worth a credit.
Would I have chosen it if I knew the theme it covered? I would have been a bit put off as it is not a topic to be taken lightly.
Do I recommend it? Yes, it is a very engaging book and light easy reading for the main part despite its darker side and indeed it is only the juxtaposition and contrast between the Jane Fallon/Agatha Raisin like mystery approach and the theme which make the dark parts look so murky in contrast. I suppose some people might say it was to serious a topic to joke about - but then I suppose murder itself is a terrible crime that we never think twice about a comedic approach to.
Food for thought, but a little uncomfortable a mix for me ... plus too much swearing also grated with me in such a lighthearted romp. In fact in that way it really is as if there are two books fighting to get out in the one story - both very well written, one light, one dark and though I would have happily read both separately, together they do not sit well with me.
I would try another book written by Fiona Leitch as I do think she is very talented and the book does end with the promise of a sequel which I would happily get on board for. hoping there might not be such a mismatch between style and theme.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping and hilarious!

This is a gripping story. I finished the book in two days. I did not want to press, 'pause'. A fabulous series of murders and a heart-rending and at times hilarious story. When is Bella and Will's next crime solving spree?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best Audiobook EVER

Wow, where do I start with this! This is a different kind of tour and one I loved as it was an audiobook review! I hated having to go to work because I just wanted to sit and listen all day in the car. I was a goner from the opening lines!

I have to say you need to go and buy this audiobook straight away! Deryn Edwards who reads this masterpiece is absolutely fantastic as Bella! I was laughing so much when she was reading. She got Bella, she got her voice to a tee! It was a fantastic pairing, and she does such a great service to Fiona’s book!

Bella, a successful crime writer who is suffering from writer’s block thanks to her slimy ex-husband, whisks herself off to Venice staying in someone’s apartment, all thanks to an email from someone but who is Francesa? Why are people being killed in Venice? And what is with the creepy mask on the book cover!!??!

When listening to the book, it felt more like I was having a conversation with the author by the way it was written. It was so conversational, a bit of casual swearing and berating when Bella is trying to write her novel. I loved the added extras in this book, all the inner monologues were hilarious! There was a lot of voice-overs, that you see on TV where characters are in their own head whilst in a scene, it was brilliantly done and played out. Bella is so real! The way she spoke, well like I say it is like having a conversation like she is telling me her story over a cup of tea or in our case a glass of wine! She hides behind the humour when uncomfortable, swears a lot but she is so down to earth and she does not mince her words!

Will, well he is dashing! In my head, I kept picturing the author Will Dean, I think because of seeing all the photos of “Bloody Scotland” festival, and to be fair he is a bit dashing too. So the whole time that is who I pictured – sidetracked there sorry!

The story, however, is a hard story when you find out why these people are being murdered. It was sad and makes you angry when you realise what is going on and why and my heart went out to one said person. When you get to the reveal, I never saw it coming and people must have thought I was weirder than normal when driving as my jaw was open the whole time, I was gobsmacked and speechless (Yes it happens..sometimes….).

I can honestly say, I was enjoying this audiobook so much I did not sit there trying to figure out who was doing the killings but I went with it, and it added so much more to my enjoyment. Instead of playing detective, I got caught up in Bella and Will and followed the clues. I got to picture the river taxis, the sights, the cafes and take it all in. I want to go to Venice so much more now, it all sounded mesmerising.

Fiona’s writing and Deryn’s voice is an amazing, head blowing combination. Fiona’s words flow, her characters are built, and Deryn she becomes their actual voice, she adds to bringing them to life.

Two things, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE, in fact, I DEMAND this be on the big screen, tv series maybe? and two I do so hope that there will be a second book, maybe in New York, especially as the author casually dropped it in on Twitter…. maybe even a character called Zoe who, at my suggestion, dies horribly! Fingers crossed for this!! **Exciting update, it appears Paris Catacombs are being researched, see you later I am off***

I really do not think I have conveyed in my review how much I loved it, but if you listen carefully you may hear me all the way from Dover shouting about it! #Gobuythisaudiobook

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Russian Doll of a story

This is a book containing another book while a third book is written. All without confusing the reader. It has thrills and titters wrapped up together. Thoroughly enjoyed it and hope a sequel will be written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Perfectly plotted!

I bloody loved this and finished it over the course of two days.
As the blurb tells us, Bella has a nasty case of writer's block and so jumps at the chance of a holiday to Italy for some inspiration. Once there she meets Will. The posh Englishman who seems far too perfect but whom she quickly starts to fall for.
I love Bella. I really do. Told from her point of view, I was inside her head and completely absorbed in everything she said and did, and I was rooting for her for the off. Working with authors in my day job I know how crippling writer's block can be, so I was hoping for her to overcome it … and boy does she!
When she arrives in Italy, everything is new and tense and this isn’t helped by the fact she speaks no Italian. What follows is a bit of a slow to build plot which twists and turns as the folk lore Bella has started to research for her book start to come true! Some of the tales had me shuddering, but I do love that kind of thing, so it was right up my street.
Being in a strange country, Bella has no one. No one she can properly turn to, apart from hot toff, Will. But from the off there’s something about him that isn’t quite right … or is there? Bella has recently divorced, and so trust isn’t the easiest thing for her grasp, but what choice does she have?
With a strong cast of characters, it was easy to fall into this one and not want to hit the pause button.
My only ‘issue’ was the genre … with the blurb telling us about the folk lore and an asylum and murders, I was expecting something different, something more mainstream and defined in that particular genre, what we actually get is a combination of gritty crime thriller, hilarious rom-com, with a splash of the heart-wrenching emotions. And it works.
It works so well, and I loved it. Completely.
And I love it when that happens; when I’m expecting one thing and get something so much more instead.
Bella is real, and her story feels real. It’s the kinda thing I daydream about happening to me. I want to go somewhere and have weird and crazy and scary things happen to me! She is literally living her storyline, and it’s wonderful.
I’d strongly recommend this one, folks!
It’s great!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Get giddy on a gondola

Romantic and amusing with a few gruesome murders thrown in. A thoroughly good listen with some well written descriptive narratives that whisk you away to Venice. There were hints of a sequel and I, for one, would buy it. Well worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent debut

No spoilers here,really enjoyed this story and the odd splash of dark very English humour!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fiona!!! Writer of the year!

What a great story enjoyed every moment and How great were the characters.
So I listened to this book whist I was working this week and the story just got better and better.
Dead in Venice had it all from romance to comedy and then crime and i would recommend it to anyone (adults) of course.
Fiona your very talented writer and I look forward to more of your story’s ahead well done my friend!! Charlotte xxx

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Witt
  • 09-10-18

A Delicious Mystery from an Engaging New Author

I was a voracious reader as a youth. I would read anything I could get my hands on, from cereal boxes to People Magazine, from junk mail to The Brothers Karamazov. Its been a long, LONG time since I have enjoyed a work of fiction the way I enjoyed DEAD IN VENICE, which has made writing this review a lot harder than I would have imagined. I am not used to being this entertained by an author who clearly loved every minute she spent writing this book, and it shows in everything from her descriptions of the apartment in Venice and Bella's initial reaction to the city, to the way Bella begins a tentative romance with a mysterious detective who has a few secrets of his own. The calculated shift from Bella's eagerness to explore her new surroundings to the growing tension of what happened on the island is masterfully handled, until I was so far down the rabbit hole that I sat in a parking lot listening to the final chapters to make sure I didn't miss anything that was going on. I can't wait to see what happens next for this author and her main character. DEAD IN VENICE made me fall in love with fiction again, and that is really saying something,

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  • Michele F.
  • 27-09-18

Gripping!

What a pleasure it was to listen to Deryn Edwards superb interpretation of Fiona Leitch relentlessly surprising story. It was difficult to stop listening when life interfered as the numerous tales within a tale, and the many unexpected twists, kept me wanting to know more RIGHT NOW!
Ms Leitch's light tone contrasts with the very serious subject matter, and makes it all the more emotional and powerful for the listener, and she doesn't pull any punches: It is in turn horrifying, funny, tender, hopeful, or sad. Whatever the story calls for, the story gets.
This is a courageous book, devoid of sentimentality but full of sentiment.

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  • D Young
  • 14-09-18

Venice, Vidi, Vici

"Dead in Venice" is a crime thriller that is equal parts page-turner, laugh-inducer and creepiness-creator. And as my commute audiobook, the damn thing kept me sitting in my driveway well after I had gotten home.

The story's fated couple, Bella and Will, are likable despite their flaws (or maybe because of them), and are just plain fun. Bella's internal - and often external - monologue hilariously illustrates the crazy range of the author's voice, while acting as the glue holding the story together. I knew this novel was my cup of tea when Bella (and in turn, the author) made an unashamed reference to another Venetian thriller "Don't Look Now."

The prose of the narrative was transportive, whisking the reader away to Venice's canals, landmarks and restaurants. The author's strong research is evident, as is her love for Venice, crime novels, food, sex, writing, and justice, but not necessarily in that order. The story itself is well-paced, and as labyrinthian and entertaining as the city's streets. Perhaps the real genius of the novel is the author's de novo creation of a set of Italian fairy tales, which adds just a touch of JK Rowling to the narrative.

"Dead in Venice" is a strong freshman effort, and deserves to be made available in print. I can only hope the author's sophomore one ("Dead in New York" perhaps?) is on its way to my library (also read by the talented Ms. Edwards, please). Well done, Ms. Leitch.