Press & Reviews
  • Lover of No Fixed Abode Reviews
  • Fruttero and Lucentini |  The Lover of No Fixed Abode
Lover of No Fixed Abode Reviews

“Fruttero and Lucentini were a particularly prolific Italian writing duo (and notable publishing editors) who wrote a ton of books from the 60s to the turn of the century when Lucentini committed suicide, including police procedurals featuring Commissario Santamaria, titles spanning mainstream literature, elegant psychological thrillers, many of which were filmed in Europe and erudite mysteries of which THE D. CASE, a compelling and witty continuation of Dickens’ tale of Edwin Drood, which was translated into English is possibly the most known outside of Italy. This is an early novel from 1986 and an absolute delight. Set in a glittering Venice described in languorous prose, it relates the three-day carnal affair of a passionate Roman aristocrat with Mr. Silvera, of the shabby suitcase, an enigmatic tour guide, who neglects his horde of uncultured tourists being led from monument to monument for her charms, against the picturesque background of a search for lost paintings. Sparkling and stylish, benefiting from a clever translation by Gregory Dowling, this is both a mystery and a mischievous comedy of manners which brings the city and its lagoon to life in colourful ways, blending elusive snippets of art mystery and scams with a joyful sense of romance, with wit to spare. Rather unique and a guilty pleasure, but then so few Venice-set mysteries fail to connect with me!”----Maxim Jakubowski CrimeTime 

“Co-authored by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini, and ably translated into English for an American readership by Gregory Dowling, "The Lover of No Fixed Abode" is a riveting read of particular interest to fans of psychological thrillers and romantic suspense novels. it is also an original work of mystery and intrigue that is raised to the level of true literary excellence. While especially recommended for both community and college/university library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lover of No Fixed Abode" is also available in a digital book format .” ----MidWest Book Review


“It’s surprising it has taken so long for The Lover of No Fixed Abode to appear in English. Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini were highly respected Italian journalists and authors whose novels were bestsellers across Europe, a partnership that began in the 1970s and lasted until Lucentini’s death in 2002. The premise of the novel is deceptively simple. It’s about a tryst over three intense and mysterious days in Venice in the mid-80s. A magnetic physical attraction leads to a spontaneous love affair between two unlikely partners. It all plays out against the magical and romantic backdrop of Venice, a city in all our heads whether we’ve been there or not – but beware: the portrait is subtly subversive. Upon her arrival, a Roman aristocrat, businesswoman and art expert is intrigued by an enigmatic tour guide, Mr Silvera. Our unnamed narrator is on a mission to acquire paintings for a London auction house at bargain prices. She is married, surely any liaison is doomed to live only in the moment, its clandestine nature fuelling the passion. It is destined to end as a ship departs the city in just a few days. So far it sounds like a romance and it is – but this is a complex tale. The Italian princess narrates much of the story, slowly revealing as much as she learns along the way. The moment she meets Silvera, she is moved to speculate about him, imagine his world. When she finds out what he actually does, she admits she probably would have dismissed him out of hand. Tour guide is a job for a penniless student, not a man of a certain maturity. Yet he is clearly erudite and educated. Does that reveal hidden depths belying his threadbare clothing? It strikes her as incongruous. Silvera is soon surrounded by his tourists, admiring everything from the gondolas to the pigeons, and the authors hint at the growing flood of tourism the city faces. The princess takes a private boat to her hotel on the Grand Canal. They are fated to meet again and when they do, they talk. He speaks several languages and knows this city and its art intimately. Soon they are lovers. He neglects his tourists, while she happy to divert from her disappointing search for genuine works of art; Venice is a city of forgery and deception.

The Lover of No Fixed Abode is about the deceitful shenanigans of the art world, although in truth this mystery plays second fiddle to the heart of the novel – her quest to discover the real Silvera, a contradiction that the princess can’t help falling for. That is the tension here, the reveal that we are intrigued by. Is he Jewish as his surname suggests, a spy for Mossad perhaps? There are clues throughout the story. The lovers dominate the novel but minor characters are expertly drawn with deft thumbnail sketches too. If fiction is more about how a book makes you feel than how much you admired the plotting, this one is a winner. Honestly, I felt better about the world for having spent time in the company of the enigmatic tour guide and the mesmeric, sophisticated Roman princess.

Her narrative is perceptive and sharp, and sometimes cutting but always entertaining. This is an elegantly written novel that muses on a moment in life as much as it tells a crime story. This may be the failing for some readers; if you’re not captivated by character and style and the crime elements are all important, you will find this is light. The crime element is secondary to the Silvera enigma and the poignant love story. We often talk of location as character and that’s more true than ever here, but what does that really mean? The authors have taken mythical and real elements of the city and laid them out for us to explore – its beguiling waterways and lagoons, narrow alleyways and its flamboyant parties, cosmopolitan character, history, festival and dark events, its uniqueness – warts and all. They capture Venice with humour and seductive language but also incisive satire. The lovers are caught up in it, so are we. Matching the ebb and flow of the story, the narrative courses between literary dreaminess and earthy vernacular. It’s a feat of dexterity and style, of mood and emotion over plot and action. This is a classic example of the authors taking the readers on a journey and we loved it. The complexity and fluency of the narrative must have placed huge demands on translator Gregory Dowling – you can read his interview here. Fruttero and Lucentini wrote together for decades, until Lucentini committed suicide. From newspaper and magazine articles to literary essays, they edited crime anthologies and wrote six novels together. Hopefully we will get a chance to see more in translation.”---CrimeFictionLover


“A mystery and relationship story with Venice at its heart, it’s not a traditional crime novel and as such is all the more intriguing and satisfying. Travelling tour guide Mr Silvera and a Roman art buyer meet in Venice and fall into a passionate affair. One question remains, just who is Mr Silvera? This novel was first published in Italy in 1986. The translator Gregory Dowling has lived in Venice for four decades and his Translator’s Note is interesting. He details a little about this author pairing of Carlo Futtero and Franco Lucentini, who worked together for more than forty years, in none of their other novels is the setting so crucial as here. He declares that in general their descriptions: “testify to a full awareness of and feeling for the city’s complex history - and this all-pervading sense of the past turns out to be intrinsic to the plot and to its central mystery”. Venice itself is stunning, and takes a leading role within the story, it feels as though you are bearing witness to the truth about this city. Words stroll or dance across the pages, teasing and suggesting while allowing a sense of purpose to grow. The story at times sits within the hands of a narrator, the unnamed lady from Rome, which adds even more to the enigma that is Mr Silvera. I found this to be a rather different reading experience, and my advice is to let yourself sink into the pages in order to fully appreciate where you find yourself. Tantalising and clever The Lover Of no Fixed Abode is an atmospheric treat in which Venice stars.”---LoveReading


“The story starts with a flight into Venice and the usual mix of tourists and businesspeople onboard. Mr Silvera is a tour guide taking a party of tourists first to Venice and then onwards to Greece by cruise ship. Silvera is very well travelled if a little world weary and dresses in what now might be regarded as shabby chic, but very much towards the shabby end of the scale. So here we have a central character who is as well-worn as his attire. On the flight, whilst putting up with those distractions of humanity that make you wish you had walked, he spots a beautiful younger woman and she notices him. On landing they go their separate ways, he to guide his tour party who are already irritating him, she to carry out her assignment. She is an art appraiser from Rome who works for a major English auction house, and is to give her assessment on a collection of paintings that are to be brought to the market.

Silvera delivers his party to the cruise ship and seemingly on a whim abandons them there, taking the tour company’s emergency funds to tide him over. A couple of days distraction in Venice and then he can decide on what the future may bring. Does he realise that his path will shortly cross that of the woman…

This is a curiously and cleverly constructed novel that plays its mystery close to its chest and features modes of transport throughout without really getting anywhere other than an aeroplane flight in and a ship out. In between Venice is thoroughly explored on foot and by various forms of boat. Venice is a beautiful city but like Silvera is worn and a little down at heel and from the descriptions of the surroundings this novel is a kind of love letter to this formidable and historic city with its fading beauty and wealth. Here there is a great depth to the writing with draws out the richness of the surroundings.

The narrative is split; it is first person from the perspective of the woman (who is never named) and third person elsewhere. The storyline itself is also divided into two, which are a period of discovery and then the reveal and its aftermath. As may be deduced from the title, at its core this is a love story, an unusual one given the players and the short timescale of three days, but probably more memorable because of this. Silvera shows her the hidden Venice that he knows, but she is keen to discover the man behind this persona he has constructed. The reveal comes following on from a party; there are hints along the way, Silvera is so knowledgeable and multilingual, but I still couldn’t guess his identity. There is also a layer of comedy underneath the story. Silvera has an acerbic eye for the withering put down (‘double door’ Americans for the overweigh tourists) and there is a satirical edge to the description of the dealings of the art world. They may well deal with fine art worth a fortune, but they fare here no better than used car salesmen and there is duplicity on the side of the seller and the buyer. Being draw into this world of the rich and upper classes he is also exposed to what is a comedy of manners and the absurdity of social norms and etiquette, beautifully highlighted by the consommé course at a dinner.

If you are a lover of fine prose then you will enjoy this, its beautifully written, mysterious and complex as the narrative shifts around, but there is also a deft lightness to it all. Excellent work from the narrator managing to capture all of this from the original. It manages to take the reader through the whole gamut of human emotions during the three days but there is almost an inevitability to the melancholy that is fitting for the cold and dreary Venice of November. The ending perhaps comes as no surprise, but it is touchingly handled.”---Peterturnsthe pages


  • Author avatar
    Francois Von Hurter
  • Fruttero and LucentiniThe Lover of No Fixed Abode