“It is easy to see why the Venice police thought I might be responsible for that death in the Belzoni's crumbling but proud old house, First of all, I was a stranger, an American spinster of almost twenty-four, who had arrived alone in a country where no wellborn woman travels without the protection of a husband or servants. What was even more damning, I had left my native New England under the sort of circumstances often referred to as a cloud.”
So begins the story of Sara Randall, who in the 1880's fled, almost penniless, to the ancestral home of her Venetian-born grandmother. There she hoped to find a livelihood as paid companion to the great-aunt she had never met, the aged Contessa Belzoni. She had hoped to escape the memory, not only of an accusing-eyed coroner's jury back in Connecticut, but of a love that had ended in bitter words and a broken engagement.
But the Belzoni's decaying, once-splendid house on the Grand Canal proved to be no refuge. On the contrary, soon after her arrival a near-fatal “accident” gave rise to her bewildered suspicion that someone in the household regarded her with murderous hostility. If her suspicion was correct, who had been her unseen assailant? The autocratic Contessa? One of the Contessa's two dissolute, handsome grandsons, or their wanton sister, the beautiful Isabella? Or was it Caleb Hayworth, the tall, stubborn ex-fiance she had not expected to meet again?
Then violent death struck a member of the Belzoni household, under circumstances pointing to herself as the killer, and Sara became unmistakably aware of the lethal web someone had woven around her. Forbidden by the police to leave Venice, she knew that her only hope of freedom, and perhaps of life itself, lay in finding the weaver of the web.
Here, set in the baroque splendor of Venice, is a novel that blends Gothic terror with an absorbing love story.