Carnival for the Dead by David Hewson
Carnival for the Dead is a suspenseful spin-off from the Nic Costa series, David Hewson's detective novels of love and death in Italy.
In Venice the past was more reticent. Beyond the tourist sights, San Marco and the Rialto, it lurked in the shadows, seeping out of the cracked stones like blood from ancient wounds, as if death itself was one more sly performance captured beneath the bright all-seeing light of the lagoon.
It's February, and Carnival time in Venice. Forensic pathologist Teresa Lupo visits the city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her beloved bohemian Aunt Sofia. But from the moment she is greeted off the vaporetto by a masked man dressed in the costume of The Plague Doctor, Teresa starts to suspect that all is not well.
The puzzle deepens when a letter reveals a piece of fiction in which both Sofia and Teresa appear. Even more strange, are the links to the past which gradually begin to surface. Are the messages being sent by Sofia herself? Her abductor? Or a third party seeking to help her unravel the mystery? The revelation is as surprising and shocking as Sofia's fate. And Teresa herself comes to depend upon the unravelling of a mystery wrapped deep inside the art and culture of Venice itself.