Death by Gondola by Jennifer S. Alderson

Title: Death by Gondola (Travel Can Be Murder #8)

Author: Jennifer S. Alderson

Published on: 8 April 2022

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tour guide Lana Hansen is having the time of her life leading a Carnevale-themed trip in Venice, Italy. Her merry group is loving every minute of exploring the city’s rich cultural heritage as well as sampling some of the delicacies the city has to offer.

A Carnevale-themed masquerade ball is hosted by Matteo Conti, the CEO of Sail-away cruises and the group has received exclusive invitations to the party. But things take turn for worse when Matteo is found bludgeoned to death during the party. One of the couple in the group had done business with Matteo before and things hadn’t turned out well. They picked up a fight with Matteo during the party.

Lana is oblivious to the fact that Matteo has been murdered and her guests are considered suspects by the local police. She returned to her hotel room before the rest of the tour guests and only heard of the murder when she turned on the TV. She hears a knock on her door and opens it to find Alex, her boyfriend, covered in blood. In the background, the TV reporter says the suspect in Matteo’s murder has run away and police are doing their best to find him.

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Death by Gondola is the eighth book in Jennifer S. Alderson’s Travel Can be Murder series.

In the previous book, we saw Randy, Lana’s co-guide, give her the news that he’s quitting. It was quite clear that Lana will be training a new recruit on her next trip. Meet Tom, an experienced tour guide who has joined Wanderlust Tours. In the beginning, Tom does not understand why he has to make simple arrangements for the guests when they do it on their own with a swipe on their cellphones. But as the story proceeds, Tom learns that the guests have paid a lot of money for the tour and it is his job to make sure they are comfortable and have all their needs met, no matter how trivial.

Lana’s current group is having a blast, touring the picturesque city and sampling the delicious food it has to offer. They are invited to Matteo Conti’s masquerade party. Matteo is the CEO of Sail-Away cruises and has done business with one of the couples in the touring group. Although, the couple are still waiting for the final settlement, they are convinced by other members of the group and Matte’s assistant that things will work out well.

Turns out, they were all wrong. When the group arrives at the party and the couple meet Matteo, he says he had uninvited them so who let them in? They end up fighting and Matteo being a ladies man, misbehaves with the client’s wife. The masquerade ball was supposed to be Matteo’s send-off party. But during the ceremony, Matteo says he will not quit. This makes the board members unhappy. Matteo had promised to give an artifact to the local museum but since he’s decided to continue working at Sail-Away cruises, he backed out of the museum plan at the last minute. This decision of his did not gel well with the museum authorities either.

Lana returns to her hotel room before the rest of the guests. She hears sirens but does not pay much attention to it. It is only when she turns on the news and learns of Matteo’s murder, she wonders if one of her guests were responsible for it. She hears someone knock at her door and opens it to see Alex, her boyfriend. Alex’s clothes are torn and soaked in blood. He tells her he’s innocent and did not kill Matteo. Lana had no idea her boyfriend was in Venice.

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She learns a shocking truth about Alex. Lana’s been in a relationship where she was treated badly and things were hidden from her. And now, once again, she feels betrayed. She’s in two minds – what else has Alex lied to her about? There are still four more days to go before the tour ends and Dotty asks Lana if she can continue. Lana says yes, knowing very well it would be unprofessional and a bother for Dotty if she discontinues halfway through.

I have been binge reading this series. I wanted to be up-to-date with the latest installment before my KU subscription expired. I would say Death by Gondola is certainly the best in the series so far. The twist in the story (Alex’s entry) was unexpected and shocking. Lana is totally shocked on hearing what he has to say. Turns out, she did not know him… like, really know him.

I felt bad for Lana, the poor thing is torn between giving Alex another chance and walking away from him for good. As the story ends, Lana does take a break – from relationship and Wanderlust Tours. She goes to the train station and asks for a ticket on the next train that arrives there. Where will the train take her? What’s in store for her next? Only time will tell…

I absolutely enjoyed reading Death by Gondola by Jennifer S. Alderson. Apart from the eclectic mix of characters and visual tour of Venice, the mystery behind the murder and Lana’s dilemma kept me guessing for more. I am eagerly looking forward to knowing what’s next for Lana. I hope things will improve in her life.


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