Death In A Strange Country by Donna Leon Death In A Strange Country by Donna Leon
Series: Commissario Brunetti #2
Published by Arrow on February 26, 2009 (first published 1993)
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 373
Format: Paperback
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three-half-stars

Early one morning Guido Brunetti, Commissario of the Venice Police, confronts a grisly sight when the body of a young man is fished out of a fetid Venetian canal. All the clues point to a violent mugging, but for Brunetti, robbery seems altogether too convenient a motive. Then something very incriminating is discovered in the dead man's flat - something which points to the existence of a high-level cabal - and Brunetti becomes convinced that somebody, somewhere, is taking great pains to provide a ready-made solution to the crime ...

Death in a Strange Country is the second in the long-running series featuring Guido Brunetti, Commissario of the Venice Police. I’ve read several of them, usually out of order. Brunetti is a good character and I like that he has a lovely, intelligent, supportive wife and kids who are pretty typical. This is an early look into the Brunetti family, which is nice. His father-in-law is more present here than in some others; he has enough power to be a force in the city, but even he has limits. Leon also does a fabulous job of bringing Venice to life, the places, the food, the people.

The story begins when a body is discovered in a canal. It looks like a simple mugging, but of course, it leads to a much bigger case. Leon’s books often have topics in addition to the murder plot. Here it’s toxic dumping, environmental issues, and of course corruption.

The plot was well-done and the tension between the American Military base and the locals felt true. As is often the case with Leon’s book, I found the resolution a bit unsatisfying, but I also feel like to a large degree that’s part of the story. Some things just can’t be wrapped up well.

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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