Under the Guise of Death by Vivian Conroy #UndertheGuiseofDeath #NetGalley

The third book in the Murder Will Follow series, this is a gripping mystery

Book blurb

In the City of Masks, deadly secrets are about to be revealed…

While attending a lavish masked ball in Venice, retired Scotland Yard detective Jasper has a shock when, at the midnight demasqué, he spots a woman whose accidental death he investigated in England three years ago. 

Even more stunned than Jasper is the woman’s husband, Lord Bantham, who has since remarried, not to mention his new wife who sees her acquired position and wealth slip away. Then there are her old friends who all seem to have known more about the ‘accident’ than they ever let on. 

When the resurrected lady is found dead the next morning on one of Venice’s many bridges, the question is: who wanted Lady Bantham to die, again?

My thoughts

This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty – this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.” – Thomas Mann

Jasper is visiting Venice. Lucky man! Nearly went there on a day trip when in Italy last year. However, we decided it would be much better to have a long weekend to properly explore this city. Sadly that’s very unlikely to happen this year. So reading Under the Guise of Death is a lovely distraction travelling not only to Venice but to a Venice of an earlier time. Vivian Conroy summons up a wondrous tale of deception, greed and murder in the midst of this majestic city.

Enjoy a little music: Vivaldi – Concerti for Violin and Strings, La stravaganza
Arte de Suonatori / Rachel Podger vn
(Channel Classics) CD2

Nothing ever seems straightforward in Venice, least of all its romances.” – Roger Ebert

The setting is Venice, the characters are mainly visitors except for the violinist, Leonardo, and his patron. The violinist suffers under the weight of a lost love, a love that was not completely his. Not only that but his patron, Marcheti, supports his marrying a rich widow. She would be able to ensure his lifelong comfort but he does not love her.

Then we have Lord and Lady Bentham – it’s his second marriage. His first wife died, tragically, in a car accident three years before. This marriage is not all that it should be. Certainly that is not helped by George Arundell, Lady Bantham’s brother. What are these two up to? He had a brief dalliance with Lord Bantham’s good friend, Larissa, but her heart yearns for another in unrequited love.

Oh, the vagaries of love!

Everything in Venice is just a little bit creepy, as much as it’s beautiful.” – Christopher Moore

All our protagonists go to a masked ball whose host – Sir James – is the father of Lord Bantham’s first wife. There are a couple of incidents leading up to and during the evening which shed light on things for Jasper but we get ahead of our selves!

As it approaches midnight the party guests are gathered together for the removal of their masks. As they look toward the clock situated on a balcony a women a in red dress, the importance of which we have already learnt, appears. There are gasps from Sir James, Lord Bantham and others. Shocked reactions, the violinist along with Arundell and Jasper take up the chase. The woman has disappeared.

Was this really the First Lady Bantham returned from the dead? Then who was the woman who died three years earlier? Why has she returned in this fashion? There are so many questions but what prays upon Jasper, for he was the investigating officer, is if this is not a hoax, how did he not investigate more thoroughly the accident three years before?

The next morning brings proof of who the lady in red was but only because she is found dead on one of the many bridges that can be found in Venice. Against the wishes and advice of the Italian local authority Jasper investigates the murder or rather the two murders.

His investigation is thorough and he covers a lot of ground – whilst hot footing it around Venice he uncovers some un-gentleman and un-lady like behaviours, gathers information from the protagonists and from abroad which culminates in inviting all the players back to Sir James’ house to reveal what happened and who the murderer is.

A masked lady in red

Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors.” – Henry James

Set in Venice this murder mystery will have you whirring around from one character to another until ex-Scotland Yard, now retired, Inspector Jasper delivers with just a hint of Miss Marple or, perhaps, with the flourish of Poirot delivers the final exposé of Under the Guise of Death.

Vivian Conroy whilst delivering a splendid murder mystery spreads before the reader this stunning city of Venice evoking it’s decaying splendour which both mirrors and yet still, at least for a while, covers up the crumbling mores of the privileged class in this period.

I found Under the Guise of Death an enjoyable, well written and a thoroughly captivating book.


Thanks to Sophie at Canelo for the invite to read Under the Guise of Death by Vivian Conroy and Canelo for an eCopy via NetGalley . All thoughts are my own, I have not received any payment for this review.

Previously read: A Testament to Murder

Published: Canelo (28 November 2019) now out in audiobook

eBook: ISBN9781788638340 – Currently £0.99 on AmazonSmileUK currently add Audible narration to your purchase for just £2.99

Buy: AmazonSmileUK | Waterstones | Your local bookshop

Author: Armed with cheese and chocolate, Vivian Conroy sits down to create the aspirational settings, characters with secrets up their sleeves, and clever plots which took several of her mysteries to #1 bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon US and Canada. Away from the keyboard, Vivian likes to hike (especially in the Swiss mountains), hunt for the perfect cheese cake and experience the joy in every-day life, be it a fiery sunset, a gorgeous full moon or that errant butterfly descending on the windowsill.



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