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The Thief of Venice: A Homer Kelly Mystery (Homer Kelly Mysteries) by Jane Langton (2000-05-01)

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Review Text

  • By Linda Pagliuco on September 4, 2009

    Venice, city of mystery, filled with great art, ancient religious relics, churches, and, sometimes, sea water. In The Thief of Venice, Homer attends a rare book conference and Mary sets out to acquaint herself with the dreamlike city. Her dreams turn into nightmares when she is pursued by a handsome but nefarious oncologist whom you know, eventually will turn on her. The subplot, about the conference director's quest to examine relics from San Marco for authenticity, also involves a love interest, and a very precocious little girl. The denouement, as both threads converge, is a satisfying one.Author Langton is hard put to stick with her literary theme in this outing, but she certainly is spot-on with her characters, not only Homer and Mary but also the ancillary figures: the overbearing American mother-in-law, the greedy doctor, the new Procurator of St. Mark's. The Thief of Venice is not one of the stronger tales in this series, being somewhat fragmented with its rapidly switching chapters and subplots. Suffice it to say that there are two current thieves and quite a few historic ones. But it's a light, fun romp through Piazza San Marco and some of the lesser known neighborhoods of La Serenissima, with a smattering of history and culture.

  • By Granny Smith on August 11, 2010

    We got this book in audio version to listen to during a long car ride. By the end of the third disk, we were wishing there had been an abridged version, maybe two disks long instead of six. This was our first and last Homer Kelly mystery.The descriptions of Venice were quite detailed but uninteresting. It reminded me of watching somebody's too long slide show of their vacation, where all the pictures are of poor quality, and the description of the trip is really boring and way too long. Even though the destination is wonderful, you still fall asleep. Giving long lists of items, which was done several times in the book, is an example of giving detail without adding interest. Describing the same thing over and over with little variation is also detailed but boring, such as the rising water in Venice and the groups of tourists from other countries. There was no charm, no life, in the descriptions of Venice.The plot is completely predictable. You know "whodunnit" at the beginning because you are told, you know the "bad guy" will get caught in the end because they nearly always do, and no step in the middle will surprise you. Why it is called a Homer Kelly mystery is perhaps the biggest mystery of the book. His character is completely passive, and nearly always absent. He could have been omitted from the book entirely without changing the plot.This book also has one of the world's longest endings. The plot lines have been resolved, everybody lives happily ever after, and you still have about 45 minutes of tripe; nothing that adds to the enjoyment of the book.If you are the type of person who pays the slightest bit of attention to plot details, this book will have more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. I usually don't notice little mistakes the author might make, but there were so many things that made no sense or didn't ring true that we were groaning out loud.Don't waste your time on this one!Things that didn't work at all:1. Homer has been reading through ancient books for days/weeks. We don't really get told what he's doing except that he seems to be completely absorbed and is allowing his wife time to have adventures of her own. Then we see him reading a book that he thinks has three different styles of handwriting, and he asks Sam, the expert, about it. Sam tells him that the book is in three different languages: Greek, Hebrew and Latin. A college professor who can't recognize Greek and Latin? Anybody who has been staring at these books full time for days/weeks who can't recognize Greek and Latin? Gimme a break.2. What are they doing in Venice, anyway? When the book opens, Mary doesn't even remember this guy from Venice, who invites them over for 6 weeks to stay at his house. Homer loves old books but knows nothing about them. Not much of a reason for this grand trip.3. Mary is running from a bad guy with a gun. They are in a public square with 1000's of tourists and locals everywhere, he doesn't have the nerve to shoot her in public, but she doesn't even bother to call for aid.4. Mary runs off joyfully with no boots on. Later, without going home, she suddenly has boots on.MINOR SPOILERS BELOW!!Hole #334,343: a medical doctor tries to murder somebody. He has carefully killed before, leaving no detail untended. She falls into a pool of her own blood. He leaves, satisfied, without checking to see if she is dead. She's only been shot in the arm and was just grazed by the bullet. How could he not check to see if she is dead? If there was an instant pool of blood, how did she survive for hours without medical treatment, only requiring a little cleanup by a friend? They mention a tourniquet, but this would not have been adequate to save both her and her arm.Can a reader really believe that a world famous Catholic church would let somebody take its sacred relics home for examination? They might allow them to be examined, maybe removed to a university or lab, but not taken home "on loan" for a month. Also, if you had an extremely valuable item in your home that went missing, and you had house guests that you barely knew, wouldn't they be on your list of suspects? Not in this book.A doctor can poke somebody in the belly and instantly determine that all of his cancer has miraculously disappeared?

  • By A customer on April 11, 1999

    In Venice, Samuele Bell hosts an international rare book convention that experts from around the world attend. Among the attendees is American Professor Homer Kelly, whose spouse Mary, also a professor, accompanies him to Italy. While Homer spends all of his time relishing the city''s vast Renaissance collection, Mary tours Venice with her camera.As the Kellys enjoy their stay in the city, Dr. Richard Henchard finds an apartment for his mistress. However, the apartment contains a strange closet where he uncovers a hidden Jewish treasure, probably buried there during World War II. To keep the treasure that he now claims as his, Richard murders two people. He also meets Mary and they begin an affair even as the police seek an unknown killer.The fourteenth Kelly mystery provides a fresh look at the main characters by shifting them to Italy and having their personal lives intercede on the who-done-it. Homer and Mary remain a warm, wonderful couple, who now must deal with her affair with the killer. However, it is Jane Langton''s descriptions of present day and World War II Venice that makes this must reading of series fans and amateur sleuth tales.Harriet Klausner

  • By A customer on July 23, 1999

    This book is quite interesting. The descriptions of the city are Even better than any guide book i have every read. Although the descriptions are marvellousthe book does not score as many points.The romance between Lucia and Samule makes you tingly inside. bottom line:ON A WHOLE DISAPPOINTING AND dRAGGING. THE DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CITY MAKE IT A LOT EAISER TO SWALLOW.

  • By A customer on September 15, 1999

    I began to think that Langton sat with a map of Venice to write her story and name-drop places. I really think this book was not well written, badly proofread and why was it necessary to use all that profanity? If it weren't for the Venice setting it would be as dull as her Boston books.

  • By Mary-Jane Cappitelli on January 19, 2013

    It was not written very well. It was not attention grabbing. It was a bit boring. It was not written very well.

  • By Rebecca M on April 9, 2009

    I am a fan of the Homer Kelly mysteries, but this one bothered me due to the completely atypical behavior of one of the characters. If this development had been explained or had been more central to the story line, it would have made for a better book. But Langton detonates this bizarre plot point without worrying about the shrapnel. Those unfamiliar with the series/characters will probably not find it as problematic.That said, the other elements of the mystery and the visualization of Venice are well-executed and carefully researched. The line drawings bring the Piazza San Marco and other Venetian landmarks to life, as in a private travel journal.

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