Dunne, July 2003, 24.95, 384 pp.
After his divorce and the death of his parents, there was nothing to keep Urbino Macintyre from accepting his inheritance of the Palazzo Vecello in Venice, Italy. The former New Orleans citizen embraces all things Venetian, so much so, that his good friend the Contessa da Capo-Zendrini gave him his very own gondola so that he wouldn't have to use public transportation. The two American expatriates are very good friends so it is easy to confide in Urbino that she is missing some clothing and inexpensive jewelry and is afraid she is sliding into senility.
Urbino assures her that she is as sane as he and he will use all his skills as an amateur sleuth to discover what happened to the contessa's belongings. Urbino is also obsessed with the Ca' Pozza and it's owner Samuel Possle, another American expatriate. When he finally gains entrance into the house, Possle doesn't address the question of Urbino writing a biography about him but hints that he has something that the writer wants. Little does Urbino know that there is a malevolent evil permeating the very walls of the Ca' Pozza and it somehow involves the Contessa and her missing possessions.
THE LAST GONDOLA is a very dark and atmospheric novel, gothic in scope with a brooding protagonist in the tradition of Jane Eyre's Heathcliffe. The author does such a good job of describing Venice that readers will feel that they have journeyed there. There are various subplots that slide into the main story line but readers won't realize how they intertwine until the last chapter when all the questions are finally answered.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner