Friday, October 06, 2017

A Death in Venice: Brunetti on the case

    Donna Leon Death at La Fenice (1992) The first in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, reprinted in 2004. I’d heard of it, but paid no attention. Now I will read them all, in order if possible. The setting is the La Fenice opera house in Venice, the victim is the world-famous conductor Helmut Wellauer, the suspects include some singers, the director, musicians, assorted lovers, journalists and gossips, and of course the widow. Politics as well as standard Italian-style corruption, Wellauer’s history, Brunetti’s family, and Venice itself make for a wonderful mix. Leon’s forte is the casually inserted detail and stray thought, which create character, setting, and ambience. The resolution is satisfactory, and the long and winding road to it is a delight to follow. Brunetti is professional, humane, and persistent. His love for his family is believable, as are his partly cynical and partly collegial relationships with his fellow cops. Recommended. ****

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