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Through a Glass,Darkly by Donna Leon

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Through a Glass,Darkly by Donna Leon Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna Leon
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Commissario Brunetti #15
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on May 18, 2006
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 36 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Donna Leon opens doors to the hidden Venice like no one else. With her latest novel, Through a Glass, Darkly, Leon takes us inside the secretive island of Murano, home of the world-famous glass factories.

On a luminous spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant Vianello play hooky from the Questura in order to help Vianello's friend Marco Ribetti, arrested during an environmental protest. They secure his release, only to be faced by the fury of the man's father-in-law, Giovanni De Cal, a cantankerous glass factory owner who has been heard in the bars of Murano making violent threats about Ribetti. Brunetti's curiosity is piqued, and he finds himself drawn to Murano to investigate. Is De Cal the type of man to carry out his threats? Then one morning the body of De Cal's night watchman is found. Over long lunches, on secret boat rides, in quiet bars, and down narrow streets, Brunetti searches for the killer. Will he unravel the clues before the night watchman's death is allowed to be forgotten?

It always seems like Leon has a topic she wants to discuss and works her mystery around that. This time around it’s pollution and the environment.

This was not my favorite in the series. The mystery doesn’t really get started until maybe half way through. Up until them Brunetti is investigating even though the only “crime” was that a woman he barely knows is worried that her father will harm her husband. I’ll grant you that does tie in to the eventual mystery, but a lot of Brunetti’s investigating and thinking happens before the actual murder. And someone entirely different is killed.

I enjoy the bits of daily life, Brunetti’s conversations with his wife and kids, the delicious food. In this one, I found the glass making process interesting. It works better as a novel the a standard mystery I think.

I hated the ending. I listened to the audio version, as I always do with this series and I felt like the end wasn’t resolved enough for me. I was left with a “that’s it?” feeling.

I love the series overall, just don’t think this was one of the stronger entries.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and lived in Venice for over thirty years. She now makes her home in Switzerland.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon

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The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Commissario Brunetti #17
Published by AudioGO on April 22, 2008
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 8 mins
Format: Audiobook
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On a rainy morning, not long after the funeral of his mother, Commissario Brunetti and Ispettore Vianello respond to a 911 call reporting a body floating near the steps in one of Venice's side canals. Reaching down to pull it out, Brunetti's wrist is caught by the silkiness of golden hair, and he sees a small foot - together he and Vianello lift a dead girl from the water. But, inconceivably, no one has reported a missing child, nor the theft of the gold jewelry that she carries. So Brunetti is drawn into a search not only for the cause of her death but also for her identity, her family, and for the secrets that people will keep in order to protect their children - be they innocent or guilty. The investigation takes Brunetti from the canals and palazzos of Venice to a Gypsy encampment on the mainland, through quicksands of connections and relationships both known and concealed, as he struggles with both institutional prejudice and entrenched criminality to try to unravel the fate of the dead child.

We’ve got two “mysteries” in The Girl of His Dreams, the death of the girl mentioned in the blurb and a potential scam being run by a man claiming to be a priest of some kind. Both are solved even if the resolutions aren’t entirely satisfying, but I guess that’s a bit like real life, not every mystery gets tied up in a neat little bow. Sometimes politics and money and being at the right place a bit too late all get in the way.

I like Brunetti. He’s happily married and actually enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife love books and conversation. While his superior is not ideal, he’s not a loner, he works well with the competent members of the force. He cares about his case, perhaps more than he should at times.

While the mystery steers the book, the musings on life, death, religion, the mafia make it slower than the typical mystery. There is less chasing down dead ends and confronting dangerous criminal and more thoughtful investigating. Leon never shies away from political/cultural issues. Here she is mostly dealing with the Rom, how and why they live the way they do and how they interact with the rest of society. Her novels can tend toward preachy for mysteries, but I enjoy them as a change of pace.

Venice is a city I would love to visit, but in the meantime Leon’s series let’s me feel like I’m there. She is great with descriptions, from food to places to the weather.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and lived in Venice for over thirty years. She now makes her home in Switzerland.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Beastly Things by Donna Leon

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Beastly Things by Donna Leon Beastly Things by Donna Leon
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Commissario Brunetti #21
Published by Blackstone Audio on April 3, 2012
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 20 mins
Format: Audiobook
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When the body of man is found in a canal, damaged by the tides, carrying no wallet, and wearing only one shoe, Brunetti has little to work with. No local has filed a missing-person report, and no hotel guests have disappeared. Where was the crime scene? And how can Brunetti identify the man when he can’t show pictures of his face? The autopsy shows a way forward: it turns out the man was suffering from a rare, disfiguring disease. With Inspector Vianello, Brunetti canvasses shoe stores, and winds up on the mainland in Mestre, outside of his usual sphere. From a shopkeeper, they learn that the man had a kindly way with animals.

At the same time, animal rights and meat consumption are quickly becoming preoccupying issues at the Venice Questura, and in Brunetti’s home, where conversation at family meals offer a window into the joys and conflicts of Italian life. Perhaps with the help of Signorina Elettra, Brunetti and Vianello can identify the man and understand why someone wanted him dead.

I’ve read several of the Brunetti mysteries, but not necessarily in order. Beastly Things was okay, not the best in the series and there were some things I missed. First and foremost I missed the food, the delicious meals Brunetti has, the desserts and drinks. They’re here, but not as tempting as usual. Of course, that probably has to do with the social theme she’s tackling in addition to the mystery. We have a look inside the food industry, at the slaughtering of animals and how the meat is deemed “safe for human consumption.” I don’t mind social issues in mysteries, but at times it can over-shadow the actual mystery plot. And the horrible scene at the slaughterhouse was not as disturbing as I thought it would be, in all honesty. But maybe I’ve heard too many horror stories before.

I like the characters as always and Venice is as a wonderful setting. I will say the plot held few surprises. I guessed who the killer was and was never really persuaded that there was another viable choice. Maybe the novelty of Leon’s series is wearing off. I know the people, the food and setting are wonderful, but it’s the same Venice. I need the focus to be a social issue I care about, and there does seem to always be an issue in her mysteries, or a plot that twists a bit more than this one did.

The narration was well-done. The characters were easy to distinguish and I didn’t feel there any jarring tones or “voices.” He just kind of blended into the story, which I mean as a compliment.

The ending left me a bit discombobulated. On the one hand, there is a very touching funeral scene. On the other, the whole food industry was just dropped. I’ll grant you that it was not in Brunetti’s job to be able to do anything about it, but . . I don’t know. It just felt incomplete to me somehow.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and lived in Venice for over thirty years. She now makes her home in Switzerland.

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