Donna Leon has won heaps of critical praise and legions of fans for her best-selling mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. With The Jewels of Paradise, Leon takes readers beyond the world of the Venetian Questura in her first standalone novel.
Caterina Pellegrini is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she's had to leave home to pursue her career. With a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, she lands in Birmingham, England. Birmingham, however, is no Venice. When Caterina gets word of a position back home, she jumps at the opportunity.
The job is an unusual one. After nearly three centuries, two locked trunks, believed to contain the papers of a baroque composer have been discovered. Deeply-connected in religious and political circles, the composer died childless; now two Venetians, descendants of his cousins, each claim inheritance. Caterina's job is to examine any enclosed papers to discover the "testamentary disposition' of the composer. But when her research takes her in unexpected directions she begins to wonder just what secrets these trunks may hold. From a masterful writer, is a superb novel, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history and greed.
For Commissario Guido Brunetti it began with an early morning phone call. A sudden act of vandalism had just been committed in the chill Venetian dawn, a rock thrown in anger through the window of a building in the deserted city. But soon Brunetti finds out that the perpetrator is no petty criminal intent on some annoying anonymous act. For the culprit waiting to be apprehended at the scene of the crime is none other than Paola Brunetti. His wife. As Paola's actions provoke a crisis in the Brunetti household, Brunetti himself is under pressure at work: a daring robbery with Mafia connections is then linked to a suspicious accidental death and his superiors need quick results. But now Brunetti's own career is under threat as his professional and personal lives clash – and the conspiracy which Paola had risked everything to expose draws him inexorably to the brink…
Commissario Brunetti's hopes of a refreshing holiday with his family are dashed when a body is found in Marghera so badly beaten that the face is unrecognizable. Brunetti searches in vain for someone who can identify the body. Then he receives a call promising some tantalizing information.
Donna Leon's "Commissario Guido Brunetti" mysteries have won legions of fans for their evocative portraits of Venetian life. In her novels, food, family, art, history, and local politics play as central a role as an unsolved crime. In "The Girl of His Dreams" when a friend of Brunetti's brother, a priest recently returned from years of missionary work, calls with a request, Brunetti suspects the man's motives. A new, American-style Protestant sect has begun to meet in the city, and it's possible the priest is merely apprehensive of the competition. But the preacher could also be fleecing his growing flock, so Brunetti and Paola, along with Inspector Vianello and his wife, go undercover. But the investigation has to be put aside when, one cold and rainy morning, a body is found floating in a canal. It is a child, a gypsy girl. Brunetti suspects she fell off a nearby roof while fleeing an apartment she had robbed. He has to inform the distrustful parents, encamped on the mainland, and soon finds himself haunted by the crime-and the girl. Thought-provoking, eye-opening, and profoundly moving, "The Girl of His Dreams" is classic Donna Leon, a spectacular, heart-wrenching addition to the series.
Beloved Commissario Guido Brunetti once again finds himself pursuing a puzzling case his fellow policemen would rather leave closed. What appears to be a cut-and-dried murder case pinpoints an elderly lady's maid as her killer. However, Brunetti comes to a different conclusion and decides-unofficially-to take on the case himself.
When a body is found floating in a canal, strangely disfigured and with multiple stab wounds, Commissario Brunetti is called to investigate and is convinced he recognises the man from somewhere. However, with no identification except for the distinctive shoes the man was wearing, and no reports of people missing from the Venice area, the case cannot progress.
Brunetti soon realises why he remembers the dead man, and asks Signorina Elettra if she can help him find footage of a farmers’ protest the previous autumn. But what was his involvement with the protest, and what does it have to do with his murder? Acting on the fragile lead, Brunetti and Inspector Vianello set out to uncover the man’s identity. Their investigation eventually takes them to a slaughterhouse on the mainland, where they discover the origin of the crime, and the world of blackmail and corruption that surrounds it.
Both a gripping case and a harrowing exploration of the dark side of Italy’s meat industry, Donna Leon’s latest novel is a compelling addition to the Brunetti series.
When a young woman returns from holiday to find her elderly neighbour dead, she immediately alerts the police. Commissario Brunetti is called to the scene but, though there are signs of a struggle, it seems the woman has simply suffered a fatal heart attack. Vice-Questore Patta is eager to dismiss the case as a death from natural causes, but Brunetti believes there is more to it than that. His suspicions are further aroused when the medical examiner finds faint bruising around the victim’s neck and shoulders, indicating that someone might have grabbed and shaken her. Could this have caused her heart attack? Was someone threatening her?
Conversations with the woman’s son, her upstairs neighbour, and the nun in charge of the old-age home where she volunteered, do little to satisfy Brunetti’s nagging curiosity. With the help of Inspector Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is determined to get to the truth and find some measure of justice.
Insightful and emotionally powerful, Drawing Conclusions reaffirms Donna Leon’s status as one of the masters of literary crime fiction.
In the opening pages of a debut novel nearly two decades ago, a nasty conductor was poisoned during intermission at the famous La Fenice opera house in Venice. The Questura sent a man to investigate, and readers first met Commissario Guido Brunetti.
Since 1992's Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon and her shrewd, sophisticated, and compassionate investigator have been delighting readers around the world. For her millions of fans, Leon's novels have opened a window into the private Venice of her citizens, a world of incomparable beauty, family intimacy, shocking crime, and insidious corruption. This internationally acclaimed, best-selling series is widely considered one of the best ever written. Atlantic Monthly Press is thrilled to be publishing Drawing Conclusions, the 20th installment, in Spring 2011.
Late one night, Brunetti is suffering through a dinner with Vice Questore Patta and his nasty Lieutenant Scarpa when his telefonino rings. A old woman's body has been found in a Spartan apartment on Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio. Her neighbor discovered it when she went to pick up her mail, after having been away in Palermo. Brunetti sees some signs of force on the old woman-the obvious wound on her head, what could be a bruise near her collarbone-but they could just as easily have been from the radiator near where she fell. When the medical examiner rules that the woman died of a heart attack, it seems there is nothing for Brunetti to investigate. But he can't shake the feeling that something may have created conditions that led to her heart attack, that perhaps the woman was threatened.
Brunetti meets with the woman's son, called into the city from the mainland to identify the body, her upstairs neighbor, and the nun in charge of the old age home where she volunteered. None of these quiet his suspicions. If anything, the son's distraught, perhaps cagey behavior, a scene witnessed by the neighbor, and the nun's reluctance to tell anything, as well as her comments about the deceased's "terrible honesty,' only heighten Brunetti's notion.
With the help of Inspector Lorenzo Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra Zorzi, perhaps Brunetti can get to the truth, and find some measure of justice.
Like the best of her beloved novels, Drawing Conclusions is insightful and emotionally powerful, and it reaffirms her status as one of the masters of literary crime fiction.
Dagger Awards (nominee)
When Commissario Guido Brunetti is visited by a young bureaucrat concerned to investigate the lack of official approval for the building of his apartment years before, his first reaction, like any other Venetian, even a cop, is to think of whom he knows who might bring pressure to bear on the relevant local government department. But when the bureaucrat rings him at work, clearly scared by some information he plans to give Brunetti, and is then found dead after a fall from scaffolding, something is clearly going on that has implications rather greater than the fate of Guido's own apartment. Brunetti's investigations take him into unfamiliar areas of Venetian life – drug abuse and loan-sharking – while the deaths of two young drug addicts and the arrest – and subsequent release – of a suspected drug-dealer, reveal, once again, what a difference it makes in Venice to have friends in high places.