By Its Cover by Donna LeonBy Its Cover by Donna Leon
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Commissario Brunetti #23
Published by Recorded Books on April 4, 2014
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 18 mins
Pages: 288
Format: Audiobook
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By Its Cover is the much anticipated twenty-third installment in Donna Leon's bestselling crime series, where Commissario Brunetti is better than ever as he addresses questions of worth and value alongside his ever-faithful team of Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra.

When several valuable antiquarian books go missing from a prestigious library in the heart of Venice, Commissario Brunetti is immediately called to the scene. The staff suspect an American researcher has stolen them, but for Brunetti something doesn’t quite add up.

Taking on the case, the Commissario begins to seek information about some of the library’s regulars, such as the ex-priest Franchini, a passionate reader of ancient Christian literature, and Contessa Morosini-Albani, the library's chief donor, and comes to the conclusion that the thief could not have acted alone.

However, when Franchini is found murdered in his home, the case takes a more sinister turn and soon Brunetti finds himself submerged in the dark secrets of the black market of antiquarian books. Alongside his ever-faithful team of Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra, he delves into the pages of Franchini’s past and into the mind of a book thief in order to uncover the terrible truth.

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that I’m a book lover, and I love the setting of the original crime here, a library in Venice. The descriptions of antique and rare books are fabulous. The original crime is that someone is stealing pages, mostly illustrations, from rare books as well as stealing whole books.  I really found the whole topic of book theft pretty interesting.

Of course, the thefts are followed by a murder, but it takes a little while to get there. The investigation was not particularly interesting, but I do like Brunetti. He and Venice are what keep me returning to these books. This one wasn’t as rich as some of the others, but it’s an enjoyable, quick read.

Once again, we have an abrupt ending, something I realize I should just expect from Leon. We learn who the killer was and the why, but there’s no wrap up that’s become traditional with mysteries.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon ( born September 28, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey) is the American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice, Italy, featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti. In 2003, she received the Corine Literature Prize.

Leon lived in Venice for over 30 years and now resides in the small village of Val Müstair in the mountains of Grisons in Switzerland. She also has a home in Zurich. In 2020 she became a Swiss citizen. She was a lecturer in English literature for the University of Maryland University College – Europe in Italy and taught English from 1981 to 1990 at an American military base in Italy.

Her Commissario Brunetti novels all take place in or around Venice. They are written in English and have been translated into many foreign languages, but – at Leon’s request – not into Italian. The ninth Brunetti novel, Friends in High Places, won the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger in 2000. German television has produced 26 Commissario Brunetti episodes for broadcast.


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