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I have reviewed several novels by Donna Leon over the past six months. This time I hadn't planned to read any more by this author but one of my friends gave me this one as she saw me reading one before. So I thought the least I could do was read it and review it.
==About the author:==
This book I'm reviewing is the fifth by Donna Leon. All her crime books feature Commissario Brunetti as the investigating officer and are set in Venice, Italy. She was born September 29th 1942 in New Jersey in America, but has spent over 20years living in Italy. Her other skills involve being a successful critic for the Sunday Times and an expert on Opera.
==Synopsis of the book:==
When a celebrated American archaeologist Miss Brett Lynch is attacked in her home Commissario Brunetti immediately shows an interest. As she is a friend of his from the murder case 'La Fenice' a few years before and is keen to help her and understand why anyone should try and hurt her. His course is helped by the Vice Questore Patta insisting he takes charge of the investigation as Lynch is a friend of the Mayor.
Upon investigation Brunetti finds the men who visited her were warning her not to attend a meeting with the Museum's owner Dottor Semenzato. All the injured party can tell him is that the men had a Southern Italian accent possibly Sicilian. But no sooner had he began his investigation when Semenzato is killed in his office.
Brunetti is confused, why warn Miss Lynch not to see him and then kill the man? Lynch is recovering well in hospital and explains about the exhibition she recently organised of Ceramic Pottery from China. And her shock at when the exhibits return to their home some of these priceless items have been swopped for good imitation fakes.
The Commissario must investigate the underworld in an attempt to discover the truth.
==My thoughts on the book:==
I have read quite a few of Donna Leon's novels before this one so I knew roughly what to expect. This book specifically did not disappoint me in the slightest; it was a well written crime book. I enjoyed it from start to finish as I believe anyone who likes a good exciting thriller will.
In the past I have been critical of the author not sticking to the story enough. Either she did not bring the crime in earlier enough for my liking or she had too much pointless involvement with the Commissario's family, which I felt, did not add anything to the books plot. However in this one the author brought the attack on Miss Lynch in straight away and kept the family conversations to a minimum, so I was happy.
The storyline was very interesting and immediately got me hooked. As a result I always felt the book was heading in the right direction and a decent lively pace. Indeed the concluding chapters were very exciting and full of suspense and I literally read the book in two good sittings over two nights, finishing at 5:15am as a result I was rubbish at work that day!!
The story dealt with not only murder but fraud, deception, The Mafia and the sexual betrayal. And while I do not know much about the Arts, I found because of the simplistic way she describes the process that I could understand and follow exactly what was going on and it allowed the story to flow freely.
The only issue I had with the story was the ease at which Brunetti solved the case and more specifically the way he managed to easily out fox the guilty party despite him being an intelligent and prosperous man, he gained easy access to him and his home despite his bodyguards.
The characters in the book were all well developed and fascinating. I have grown to like and respect Brunetti as the lead character. But what the author also does it bring in great supporting roles; these add a new and different demention to her books as they supply contrasting views and opinions to the storyline.
A few of these are constant such as Brunetti's sergeant Vianello who in this book plays a small but key role and Signorina Elettra who he admires not only for her beauty but her ability to find information for him. Along with his family who seem to add a touch of humour to the book and show Brunetti's purpose in the work he does.
I would maybe have liked to know what happened to a few of the characters that were only in this story in the future. As certainly a couple of them I grew attached to and will now have to decide what happens to them in the future for myself.
As always with Donna Leon's books I found her descriptions of the scenes and the architecture breathtaking. Although I have never been to Italy and up to a few months ago had no desire to visit Venice, I have through her writing become intrigued by the seemingly beauty and character of the place.
The book was about the right length for me. As I say I read it quickly because it gripped me and flowed so well. What she is very good at is changing the scene at exactly the right time, and bringing you straight back into the plot in the first few lines of the next one. These regular chapters break the book up well and effectively.
At the end of the book another for me good feature is the introduction into her next novel. She gives you the complete first chapter of 12 pages which wets your appetite to purchase it. You could be cynical and say this is simply to make you buy to next book in the series but always think because it is a reasonable length it gives you more than a flavour and helps you decide their and then whether you will like it or not.
Certainly for me this was a wonderful crime novel, it was a book that contained everything. It was exciting and full of excellent writing. I think this has been my favourite novel by Donna Leon and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys a good Crime Thriller.
Publisher: Pan Books
About the Author: www.donnaleon.co.uk
Thank you for reading my review.
This review was published on both Dooyoo and Ciao under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS June 2009.