It took me a while to get into this book. At first the studiedly arch tone really put me off, despite the clever humor. I couldn't imagine wanting to read an entire book written that way.
Then I got to the second chapter, which is mostly related through a letter from one of the characters to the others. Suddenly the whole thing clicked and I was enjoying the book. So if you try this one and don't like it, at least give it two chapters.
It's an oddly constructed murder mystery in some ways. The murder takes place in Venice, but the main character--dry Oxford don Hilary Tamar--never leaves London. Hilary is spending a month out of the summer housesitting for a friend and doing research, but what she's really doing is hanging out with a bunch of young lawyers, many of them former students of hers, while they themselves are spending as many working hours as they can get away with drinking coffee, visiting restaurants, and gossiping. One of the bunch, Julia, is on holiday in Venice. Ostensibly she's part of an Art Lover's tour, but really she's there to seduce someone attractive. When a handsome young man turns up dead in her bed, she's the only logical suspect. It's up to Hilary and her vapid friends to figure out what really happened.
The book is witty, sometimes self-consciously so but always with a tongue-in-cheek feel. The characters banter incessantly, which is part of the fun. And the plot, while a bit far-fetched, is well-constructed and a good mystery. I didn't figure out who the murderer was--in fact, my guesses were all way off.
I should also point out the awesome cover illustration by Edward Gorey. I actually owned this whole series at one point back when I had a huge Gorey collection, but I never read the books. It's too bad I didn't keep the others, because I think I'll read the rest of this series eventually.