Villains In Venice by Katherine Woodfine

Publication Date: 6 August 2020

The Blurb

Get set for another incredible adventure with secret agents extraordinaire, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lillian Rose!

After the dramatic events of their mission to St Petersburg, Sophie and Lil know the truth – there’s a double-agent at work at the Secret Service Bureau. Whilst Lil pursues a dangerous line of enquiry in London, Sophie must set out on a new mission to Venice, following a twisted trail to discover long-buried secrets. But there are villains lurking amongst the city’s piazzas, canals and crumbling palaces, and in the shadows an old enemy lies in wait…

The Review

Get your tea and buns ready and settle in for a nail-biting trip to the floating Italian city as Sophie and Lil close in on the Fraternitas in the 3rd full length instalment of Taylor & Rose Secret Agents. (If you haven’t read the previous books, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not reading them first.)

With all of the twists, turns and cliff-hangers we’ve come to expect, Villains In Venice is a wonderfully evocative murder mystery. Katherine Woodfine brings the era alive in both London and Venice as we are once more transported back in time to an ever more dangerous mystery for our secret agents to solve. The opulence and frivolity of Carnival is in stark contrast to the darkness hidden beneath the cloaks and masks of some of the revellers, which seems to make Sophie’s mission more dangerous than ever.

As the villains become ever more dastardly and plots ever more deadly, the team need to pull together to keep each other safe, but for the first time since Sophie and Lil met in Sinclair’s way back in The Clockwork Sparrow, we see their relationship splintering.

It is heart-breaking to see the effects of grief on Lil, usually the life and soul, but now lost as she refuses to accept the loss of Joe. The strain on her relationship with Sophie and the rest of the gang, and her lack of interest in the fast changing fashion of the era and Taylor & Rose Detective Agency show just how much she is desperate not to let go of her friend and first love.

And once again, Karl’s illustrations throughout aid understanding of the clue, enabling you to sleuth along with the gang.

The only problem? What a cliff-hanger to leave us on – the wait for the next book is going to seem very long indeed!

Perfect for fans of:

  • A Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
  • Rose Campion And The Stolen Secret by Lyn Gardner
  • Scarlet & Ivy by Sophie Cleverly

The Q&A

1. Could you describe Villains In Venice in three words?

Mystery, masks, murder!

2. Miss Cleveland has a lot of books on her bookcase. Why should we pick yours?

For adventure, mystery and history. If you like detective fiction like the Murder Most Unladylike mysteries, spy thrillers like the Alex Rider books, stories with brave and bold heroines, or if you simply fancy a stroll around Venice over a hundred years ago, then I think you’ll enjoy Taylor & Rose Secret Agents: Villains in Venice.

3. We love your mysteries. What is it about this genre that draws you to write them?

I wanted to write mysteries mostly because I love reading them! I always enjoy trying to piece together the clues, suss out the suspects and work out what’s going on alongside the detectives in the story as I read — and coming up with my own mysteries is even more fun.

4. Taylor & Rose Secret Agents books are set in an exciting time in history – the Titanic Era. How was it different writing this to the Sinclair Mysteries which were set in Edwardian times?

The Taylor & Rose books are set in 1911 and 1912, just a couple of years after the Sinclair’s Mysteries— so things haven’t changed too much. Having said that, I hope these books do reflect some of the changes that were taking place at this time, as society moves further away from the traditions of the Victorian era and into the 20th century. In particular, this was a time when lots of new opportunities were opening up for girls and women. Of course, it was also a time when there was conflict beginning to rumble in Europe, and you might also get a sense of World War I looming on the horizon…

5. Taylor and Rose have come a long way since Sinclair’s Department Store. When did you realise they were destined for adventures beyond London?

After writing the Sinclair’s Mysteries I knew I wanted to know more about what would happen to Sophie and Lil next. I liked the idea of returning to them a couple of years later, when they were a little older, and had more experience of being professional detectives. I’d also learned that the real-life British Secret Service Bureau (which later became MI5 and MI6) was first established in 1909, around the time the Sinclair’s Mysteries concluded. I immediately thought that it would be great fun to see Sophie and Lil taking on the challenge of becoming secret agents and venturing beyond London to new locations. I always associate spy stories with travel, and I knew it would be a lot of fun writing about different cities across Europe in this time period.

6. You bring the different cities you write about to life as Taylor & Rose travel Europe. Which city in Europe would you like to visit?

Top of my list at the moment is Berlin, but I’d also love to visit Copenhagen and Lisbon.

7. Hopefully there are more adventures to come – if Sophie and Lil could travel anywhere in the world, where would you take them?

There are so many cities I’d like to see Sophie and Lil visit! Looking beyond Europe, one of my favourite places I’ve ever been was Brazil, so I think it would be fun to see Sophie and Lil have an adventure in Rio de Janeiro.

8. We’d love to go for afternoon tea with Sophie and Lil. Which book character would you most like to spend the day with and what would you do together?

There are so many — but right now, I think I’d choose to drop in for tea with the tiger from The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. It’s my 18-month-old daughter’s favourite picture book at the moment, and I know she’d adore having buns and cake with the tiger, and watching him drinking all the water out of the tap. And obviously we’d also join the family later when they head out for a lovely supper in a cafe because the tiger has eaten everything and there’s no food left in the house!

9. What was your favourite book as a child, and did you have a favourite author?

I was a huge reader as a child and I had so many favourite books, so I often find it difficult to identify just one. But I enjoyed a lot of the classic children’s books: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my all-time favourites. I also read lots of adventure stories, mysteries and magical stories. In terms of favourite authors, one that I especially loved was Noel Streatfeild.

10. And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring young authors?

Read as much as you can! The more you read, the more you’ll learn about how to tell a good story.

Huge thanks to Katherine for answering our questions, and to Egmont for inviting me to be a part of the Villains In Venice Blog Tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.


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