2 April 2020.
This is the fourth title in the series depicting the adventures (with various mishaps) of Nathan Sutherland, Honorary British Consul for Venice. His position, despite the apparent grandeur of the title, is unpaid; he is expected to render such assistance and advice to British citizens as he can (not very much) and to represent Her Majesty’s Government when called upon to do so. It is in this latter capacity that he finds himself, while on an informal visit with some friends to the cemetery island of San Michele on November 2nd, All Souls Day, being urgently requested by the Anglican priest, Father Michael Rayner, to read a suitable passage from the Bible to the small congregations at the cemetery’s Protestant church. And while Nathan is accompanying Father Rayner to the church a strange discovery is made during maintenance work in the graveyard: the coffin of a child is accidentally opened and the coffin is empty. Father Rayner, accompanied by Nathan in his capacity as British consul, has to report this to the local police (Nathan’s friend Vanni). The grave was that of a young boy, Gabriel Loredan; 40 years ago he had been drowned in one of the Venetian lagoons. Gabriele had been the son of a once well-known celebrity Hugo Channing and Cosima, daughter of an ancient Venetian family; although according to Italian custom, the boy took his mother’s surname but still had British nationality. Thus, establishing what has happened to the boy’s remains is Nathan’s responsibility. He would really like to devolve this to the British Ambassador in Rome but the latter, beset on all sides by British citizens resident in Italy desperate to ascertain their future status post-Brexit, insists that the task is down to Nathan.