I like Guido Brunetti, the lead in Donna Leon’s mystery series. He’s a commissario in Venice and I have to admit that I tend to listen to these on audio rather than read them. I love hearing all the Italian words and places pronounce. It gives me a fuller feeling for the setting, and I have fallen in love with Leon’s Venice.

Blood from a Stone takes place just before and during Christmas. Brunetti is called to the scene of a murder, a “vu cumpra” has been killed, an African who sells knock-off handbags from a sheet spread out on the ground. As he investigates the case, despite being ordered not to by his superior, he realizes it is more complex and stretches farther than he could have imagined.

I’ve listened to a couple of Leon’s mysteries and this was not my favorite. There was a lot of build up but then ending just kind of fell flat for me. That being said, Brunetti is simply a great character, caring and ethical, in a city with a lot of corruption. He’s the main character detective, but you actually see his family, get to know his wife and children. He adores and they are a part of his daily life, not just one-dimensional figures in the background. In this one, his family issues and the problems at work mesh in an interesting way, how stereotypes and prejudices can affect our whole lives, that we need to be aware of how our attitudes get translated to our children. Family is very integral to the story, a nice change from the usual mystery.

This is not a series that needs to be read in order. I haven’t been and I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. Leon does a great job of keeping each book self-contained. Each does build on each other, but more as a whole, if that makes sense. If the books were placed together, they would form more of a mound than a precariously-balanced,  one-on-top-of-another stack. Reading more than one gives you a fuller feel for the city and Brunetti and those close to him, but pulling out one doesn’t cause the whole thing to topple.

I enjoyed this one, but I’m glad it wasn’t the first of Leon’s books I’d read.

Purchase from Amazon or an Indie bookstore.

3 out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective- Police Procedural

Commissario Brunetti #14
9 hours, 9 minutes
First published 2005

Book source: Library


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