The Breath of the Zephyr

| March 19, 2019

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Previously published as “White Phantom City”, “The Breath of the Zephyr” is a re-working of the story with a few changes and twists. It is a historical/supernatural crime thriller set partly in England between 1936 and 1956, and in the Venice of the seventeen hundreds. It centres around a young evacuee, Eleanor White, and her enigmatic uncle Arthur (a master carpenter, known as “The White Soldier” having been a highly decorated non-combatant in the Great War) and the wickedness that surrounds them.

There is intrigue and deceit; love and loss; and murder. Not only depicting rural life during WW11, it contains a wealth of information about eighteenth century Venice that may surprise (and possibly appal) many readers. A lot of research has gone into creating the sights, sounds and smells of the “Serenissima” as well as introducing some of the characters who actually lived there at the time.

Plenty of atmosphere and suspense, with some blood and tears along the way – plus some surprises and a little laughter to lighten the darker moments.

• Venice: The first half of the Settecento. (The Eighteenth Century.)

Leonardo Grimaldi, a former member of the Maggior Consiglio and now Missier Grande: the so-called chief of police, is an embittered man with a less than illustrious career. Longing for something more rewarding than the tediousness of malicious gossip and street brawl killings, he secretly wishes that something more challenging would present itself. What he craves more than anything else, is the chance to investigate just one good murder.

‘Be careful what you wish for in this world, Leo,’ the words of a wise friend rang in his ears. ‘Lest it come true.’

• England: The first half of the Twentieth Century.

In nineteen forty, Eleanor White, who is fascinated by all things Venetian is evacuated to her uncle Arthur’s country cottage where at night, she hears an unearthly voice in the wind calling her name. She is also disturbed by a sinister wall mask, which Arthur calls “Lenore” and a ghostly face that peers out from the belfry in a Canaletto print hanging in her bedroom.

Ellie is enthralled when Arthur shows her an eighteenth century canvas that may or may not be genuine. She is doubly excited to learn that its origin is shrouded in mystery, surrounding a series of unsolved murders.

The mask. The face. The painting. The murders: all part of an enigma spanning more than two hundred years. Unless Ellie can unlock the terrible secret that links them, a cataclysm will take place, which will affect the destinies of people many miles – and many years away.

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