Sunday, February 10, 2013

Death at La Fenice

Death at La Fenice
by Donna Leon

After having volumes of this series recommended to me over the years by numerous other mystery fans, I finally got around to reading Death at La Fenice, the first volume in the long-running Commissario Guido Brunetti series, for the January 2013 meeting of our libraries' Just Desserts mystery discussion group. I will have to admit, as a mystery fan, I gravitate towards those stories in which the violence happens off-screen, and the settings, and the sleuth's personality and methodology are more important than the plots. In the case of this novel, Leon's descriptions of Venice are beautiful and haunting -- particular a foggy evening in which Brunetti can only find his way through parts of the city purely by memory, since he can't see more than a couple feet in front of him. I found myself fascinated with Brunetti himself -- a good man in a somewhat corrupt police department, forced to moderate his own behavior in order to fit into an environment that is beneath him. The death here, the mysterious killing of an famous opera conductor between acts of his latest production, is a bit thin. And the pacing is quite slow. But if you're looking for a mystery series with atmosphere, and a likeable, engaging protagonist, I highly recommend this series. Long-time fans have noted that as the series progresses, the tone gets much, much darker -- so be forewarned! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, set in Canada but featuring a sleuth similar in nature and tone to Brunetti.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [Subscribe to Scott's monthly booklist newsletter It's All Geek to Me! - on the Books, Movies & More newsletter sign-up page].

[ official Donna Leon web site ] | [ official UK Donna Leon web site ]

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