Donna Leon's books are a wonderful way to armchair travel to Venice. While they are police mysteries, they are not as gory as the Cornwell or Slaughter series of books. The books in her collection do not need to be read in sequence. This one deals with a murder of one of the African illegal aliens who sell knockoff items to tourists there. It meanders into something different and larger. A fairly fast read but on where you learn a bit about Italy, food, politics and Italian feelings towards immigrants.
Although this is the 14th book in the Brunetti series, it's the first I've read. I found the mystery plot to be rather mild, but the political intrigue was fascinating. The insight into the workings of Italy's law enforcement bureaucracies was cleverly written. And the development of the characters and their working and social relationships was very entertaining. The author's style has subtle humor and irony, and presents modern-day Venice in a fond but probably accurate light.
Donna Leon's books set in Venice give insights to a culture different from American or British, those mystery settings we most often read. She gives her characters a life separate from the investigations which adds depths to the plot developments. Each book develops differently, making the reading a pleasure since the reader is never sure what path it will take. I've read many of Leon's mysteries with C. Brunetti and have enjoyed them all, including Blood from a Stone.
Another excellent Dona Leon. This one details the society on the outskirts of Venice where third country nationals are coming to the western countries trying to make a better life yet seem not to exist when not in public view. The title aludes to the African conflict developed from the continent's natural resources yet poor and violent societies. Once again Leon's character struggles between society's prejudges and the reality of the individual.
#14 Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery set in Venice. When a black immigrant (probably illegal) is shot to death in a crowded marketplace where he was selling knock-off designer handbags, Guido begins an investigation--which is made doubly difficult by the fact that, since the man and his friends are in the country illegally, no one knows who he is, where he lives, or what the motive for murder could possibly be.
Guido calls in a few favors to slightly underground friends around town and locates the man's home, but of course the friends refuse to give any information, being afraid of any police authority based on experience in their home country of Senegal. But Guido finds a stash of diamonds hidden in a box of salt in the man's meager apartment, and thus believes he's found something of a motive--and then his boss, Vice-Questore Patta calls him off the investigation without explanation except, "We're letting this go." Of course that means he's gotten direction from higher up, but why?
On a personal note, it's just days to Christmas and Guido is having problems choosing gifts for his family, and Paola and Chiara (his wife and daughter) are on the outs because of a disparaging comment Chiara made about the man whose death Guido is investigating.
Excellent as always--I can't believe this is already #14 in the series and that by next year I'll probably be caught up. Love, love, LOVE Guido, his family and Venice!
Donna Leon's series of Guido Brunetti mysteries set in Venice is one of my favorites. This particular one just doesn't measure up. Very difficult to get into, hard to see where it was headed, political views thrown in detracted from the overall story. If this had been the first book I read in this series I wouldn't have picked up another one. Donna, please go back to your usual excellent novel writing!
Although I love Donna Leons Brunetti stories, this one took considerable time to unwind. The problem seems clear enough a young, illegal Senegalese street peddler is professionally murdered in the streets of Venice, in front of dozens of tourists.
Commissario Brunetti starts to investigate the murder when he gets opposition from his superior Vice-Questore Patta seriously opposes this investigation. As he continues to investigate, he realizes this isnt just about the death of a single street peddler.
One of the most interesting parts of this particular story was Brunettis coming to realize that he could personally be in danger by investigating this murder. When an old friend of his fathers (a noted jewel merchant), tries to help Guido get info and is followed, Brunetti realizes he is putting people he cares about in jeopardy.
Guidos family is here and they often add a bit of humor to a deadly serious story. They also show Guido to be a caring, compassionate human not just a bloodhound on the trail of murder. Once the reader sees that serious danger is involved, it raises the ante on Guidos need to find the truth.
Guido Brunetti Series
1. Death at La Fenice (1992)
2. Death in a Strange Country (1993)
3. The Anonymous Venetian (1994) aka Dressed for Death
4. A Venetian Reckoning (1995) aka Death and Judgment
5. Acqua Alta (1996) aka Death in High Water
6. The Death of Faith (1997) aka Quietly in Their Sleep
7. A Noble Radiance (1997)
8. Fatal Remedies (1999)
9. Friends in High Places (2000)
10. A Sea of Troubles (2001)
11. Willful Behaviour (2002)
12. Uniform Justice (2003)
13. Doctored Evidence (2004)
14. Blood from a Stone (2005)
15. Through a Glass Darkly (2006)