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About Donna Leon
A New Yorker of Irish/Spanish descent, Donna Leon first went to Italy in 1965, returning regularly over the next decade or so while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, China and finally Saudi Arabia. Leon has received both the CWA Macallon Silver Dagger for Fiction and the German Corrine Prize for her novels featuring Commisario Guido Brunetti. She lives in Venice.
Photo by Michiel Hendryckx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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Titles By Donna Leon
Brunetti is forced to confront the price of loyalty, to his past and in his work, as a seemingly innocent request leads him into troubling waters.
What role can or should loyalty play in the life of a police inspector? It’s a question Commissario Guido Brunetti must face and ultimately answer in Give Unto Others, Donna Leon’s splendid 31st installment of her acclaimed Venetian crime series.
Brunetti is approached for a favor by Elisabetta Foscarini, a woman he knows casually, but her mother was good to Brunetti’s mother, so he feels obliged to at least look into the matter privately, and not as official police business. Foscarini’s son-in-law, Enrico Fenzo, has alarmed his wife (her daughter) by confessing their family might be in danger because of something he’s involved with. Since Fenzo is an accountant, Brunetti logically suspects the cause of danger is related to the finances of a client. Yet his clients seem benign: an optician, a restaurateur, a charity established by his father-in-law. However, when his friend’s daughter’s place of work is vandalized, Brunetti asks his own favors—that his colleagues Claudia Griffoni, Lorenzo Vianello, and Signorina Elettra Zorzi assist his private investigation, which soon enough turns official as they uncover the dark and Janus-faced nature of a venerable Italian institution.
Exploring the wobbly line between the criminal and non-criminal, revealing previously untold elements of Brunetti’s past, Give Unto Others shows that the price of reciprocity can be steep.
In Venice, Italy, Commissario Guido Brunetti comes to the aid of a young Catholic sister, who has left her convent after five of her nursing home patients died unexpectedly. In the course of his inquiries, Brunetti encounters an unusual cast of characters, but discovers nothing that seems criminal. The police detective must determine whether the nun is simply creating a smoke screen to justify abandoning her vocation—or if she has stumbled onto something very real and very sinister that places her own life in imminent danger.
“Leon’s books shimmer in the grace of their setting and are warmed by the charm of their characters.” —The New York Times Book Review
Also published under the title The Death of Faith
During intermission at the famed La Fenice opera house in Venice, Italy, a notoriously difficult and widely disliked German conductor is poisoned—and suspects abound. Guido Brunetti, a native Venetian, sets out to unravel the mystery behind the high-profile murder. To do so, he calls on his knowledge of Venice, its culture, and its dirty politics. Along the way, he finds the crime may have roots going back decades—and that revenge, corruption, and even Italian cuisine may play a role.
“One of the most exquisite and subtle detective series ever.” —The Washington Post
“A brilliant writer . . . an immensely likable police detective who takes every murder to heart.” —The New York Times Book Review
In the landmark thirtieth installment of the bestselling series the New Yorker has called “an unusually potent cocktail of atmosphere and event,” Guido Brunetti is forced to confront an unimaginable crime
In his many years as a commissario, Guido Brunetti has seen all manner of crime and known intuitively how to navigate the various pathways in his native city, Venice, to discover the person responsible. Now, in Transient Desires, the thirtieth novel in Donna Leon’s masterful series, he faces a heinous crime committed outside his jurisdiction. He is drawn in innocently enough: two young American women have been badly injured in a boating accident, joy riding in the Laguna with two young Italians. However, Brunetti’s curiosity is aroused by the behavior of the young men, who abandoned the victims after taking them to the hospital. If the injuries were the result of an accident, why did they want to avoid association with it?
As Brunetti and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, investigate the incident, they discover that one of the young men works for a man rumored to be involved in more sinister nighttime activities in the Laguna. To get to the bottom of what proves to be a gut-wrenching case, Brunetti needs to enlist the help of both the Carabinieri and the Guardia di Costiera. Determining how much trust he and Griffoni can put in these unfamiliar colleagues adds to the difficulty of solving a peculiarly horrible crime whose perpetrators are technologically brilliant and ruthlessly organized.
Donna Leon’s Transient Desires is as powerful as any novel she has written, testing Brunetti to his limits and forcing him to listen very carefully for the truth.
A New York Times Book Review Best Crime Book of the Year • A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • A Financial Times Summer Book Pick • A Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine Most Anticipated Mystery of the Year
Commissario Guido Brunetti is surprised by the appearance of a friend of his wife’s, fearful that her son is using drugs and hopeful Brunetti can somehow intervene. When the woman’s husband is found unconscious with a serious brain injury at the foot of a bridge in Venice after midnight, Brunetti is drawn to pursue a possible connection to the boy’s behavior. But the truth, as Brunetti has experienced so often, is not straightforward.
While Brunetti pursues several false and contradictory leads, he becomes exasperated by the petty bureaucracy that constantly bedevils him and threatens to expose Signorina Elettra, his superior’s secretary. But steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics, he reads Sophocles’s Antigone, and, in its light, considers the terrible consequences to which the actions of a tender heart can lead.
“It’s the living, bleeding humanity of the characters that makes Donna Leon’s police procedurals so engaging. . . . Tagging along after this sleuth is a wonderful way to see Venice like a native.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“[A] droll and intelligent series.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“[A] richly rewarding series . . . from a master of character-rich crime fiction.” ―Booklist
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 Manchester, England. Manchester, 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 the 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, The Jewels of Paradise is a superb novel, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history, and greed.
“Commissario Brunetti is allowed to take a vacation once in a while, but only if his replacements are as wry and erudite as Caterina.” —The Washington Post
“Fascinating . . . Boasts the same sensitivity to human behavior that distinguishes her Guido Brunetti series.” —Booklist
“A veteran mystery maven weaves present-day Venice into a 300-year-old puzzle in this engaging stand-alone . . . Packs the charms of Venice into a smart whodunit.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Elegant prose, with humorous, wonderfully detailed descriptions as seen through the eyes of her heroine.” —Opera News
Early one morning, Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police confronts a grisly sight when the body of a young man is fished out of a fetid canal. All clues point to a violent mugging, but for Brunetti the motive of robbery seems altogether too convenient. When something discovered in the victim’s apartment suggests the existence of a high-level conspiracy, Brunetti becomes convinced that somebody, somewhere, is taking great pains to provide a ready-made solution to the crime.
Rich with atmosphere and marvelous plotting, Death in a Strange Country is a superb novel in Donna Leon’s chilling Venetian mystery series.
Praise for Donna Leon and the Commissario Brunetti Mysteries
“One of the best international crime writers is Donna Leon, and her Commissario Guido Brunetti tales set in Venice are at the apex of continental thrillers.” —Rocky Mountain News
“Leon’s books shimmer in the grace of their setting and are warmed by the charm of her characters.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Brunetti . . . long ago joined the ranks of the classic fictional detectives.” —Evening Standard
“Commissario Brunetti, most charismatic current Euro-cop, uncovers deadly ants’ nest of corruption. A highly accomplished, scary read.” —The Guardian
When Commissario Guido Brunetti first meets her, Claudia Leonardo is merely one of his wife’s students. Intelligent and serious, she asks for his help in obtaining a pardon for a crime once committed by her now-dead grandfather. Brunetti thinks little of it—until Claudia is found dead.
Unable to find any living relatives, he visits the elderly Austrian woman who was once Claudia’s grandfather’s lover and with whom Claudia was close—and is stunned by the extraordinary art collection she keeps in her otherwise modest apartment. When she, too, is murdered, Brunetti’s investigation uncovers shocking skeletons in the closet of Nazi collaboration that few in Italy want revealed . . .
“[A] widely admired series.” —Chicago Tribune
“The appeal of Guido Brunetti, the hero of Donna Leon’s long-running Venetian crime series, comes not from his shrewdness, though he is plenty shrewd, nor from his quick wit. It comes, instead, from his role as an Everyman . . . [his life is] not so different from our own days at the office or nights around the dinner table. Crime fiction for those willing to grapple with, rather than escape, the uncertainties of daily life.” —Booklist
On a beautiful spring morning on the island of Pellestrina, south of the Lido on the Venetian lagoon, a small boat moored at the docks suddenly explodes, killing two local clam fishermen. When it becomes clear that the fire was deliberately set, Brunetti decides to investigate. But when he tries to dig up information about the murder, the island’s tight-knit, closemouthed community closes ranks—forcing Brunetti to accept Signorina Elettra’s offer to visit her relatives there to search for clues.
On the island, Brunetti finds himself torn between his duty to solve the murders and his concerns for the Signorina’s safety. And though he is loyal to his beloved wife, Brunetti’s concern for his boss’s spirited secretary may be driven by more than platonic feeling . . .
“The arrival of a new Donna Leon book fills me with pleasurable anticipation. She tells a good story, including the best of all current police detectives, Commissario Brunetti, and locates it in a superbly described Venice. The plot is beautifully constructed. The climax is exciting and disturbing . . . Brunetti is as irresistible as ever.” —The Scotsman
“The sophisticated but still moral Brunetti, with his love of food and his loving family, proves a worthy custodian of timeless values and verities.” —TheWall Street Journal
In Death and Judgment, a truck crashes and spills its dangerous cargo on a treacherous road in the Italian Dolomite mountains. Meanwhile, in Santa Lucia, a prominent international lawyer is found dead aboard an intercity train. Suspecting a connection between the two tragedies, Brunetti digs deep for an answer, stumbling upon a seedy Venetian bar that holds the key to a crime network that reaches far beyond the laguna. But it will take another violent death in Venice before Brunetti and his colleagues begin to understand what is really going on.
“No one is more graceful and accomplished than Leon.” —The Washington Post
“The sophisticated but still moral Brunetti, with his love of food and his loving family, proves a worthy custodian of timeless values and verities.” —The Wall Street Journal
“[Brunetti’s] humane police work is disarming, and his ambles through the city are a delight.” —The New York Times Book Review
“The heady atmosphere of Venice and a galaxy of fully realized characters enrich this intriguing and finally horrifying tale.” —Publishers Weekly
“The first of Leon’s books to knit together all her strengths: endearing detective, jaundiced social pathology, and a paranoid eye for plotting on a grand scale.” —Kirkus Reviews
For Commissario Brunetti, it began with an early morning phone call. In the chill of the Venetian dawn, a sudden act of vandalism shatters the quiet of the deserted city. But Brunetti is shocked to find that the culprit waiting to be apprehended at the scene is someone from his own family.
Meanwhile, Brunetti is under pressure from his superiors to solve a daring robbery with a link to a suspicious accidental death. Does it all lead back to the Mafia? And how are his family’s actions connected to these crimes? The truth must be uncovered in this novel in the Silver Dagger Award–winning series by “one of the best of the international crime writers” (Rocky Mountain News).
“Leon’s devoted readers love her books for their juicy mystery plots, and also for the rich and varied cast of recurring characters, among which is the city of Venice itself.” —Publishers Weekly
Commissario Guido Brunetti’s hopes for a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera—a body so badly beaten the face is completely unrecognizable. Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the corpse but is met with a wall of silence. He then receives a telephone call from a contact who promises some tantalizing information. And before the night is out, Brunetti is confronting yet another appalling, and apparently senseless, death.
“[One of] the real charms of this series [is] the endearing character of Brunetti and his compassionate insights into the heart of Venice and the soul of its people. . . . Truly, a refreshing hero.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Despite the gruesome way in which this murder, and subsequent ones, take place, it’s really a cheery, breezy mystery, filled with good humor and adventure. The ending can only leave the reader waiting avidly for the next time we meet Brunetti and his lively friends and cohorts.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Leon delivers her plot in an unassuming, graceful and beautifully paced prose that hides its measured elegance.” —The Washington Post
“One of the most appealing of recent detectives, Brunetti stars in a case that brings out his canniness and his compassion—and shows his creator spreading her wings more powerfully than ever.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Richly evocative. . . . Venice takes on a deep noir tint in Leon’s latest well-crafted work.” —Publishers Weekly