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This is the fourth book by Donna Leon that I have reviewed. Originally my boss told me to give her a try as she is her favourite author. And after getting used to the first one, I have found her books to be very good. They are all based in Venice and focus on the detective work of Commissario Brunetti.
About the author:
Donna Leon has lived in Venice for many years. So far she has written 17 crime novels including this one, all of which have been highly acclaimed. Before becoming a writer she was a teacher and gain experience in many countries.
About the book:
A friend of Inspector Vianello Marco is arrested following a demonstration at a chemical plant. The environmentalist's wife called Vianello to get him released. Brunetti accompanies him, but as soon as they get there they discover all the charges against Marco have been dropped.
Upon his release the three men bump into Marco's father in law De Cal, an owner of the local glass making plant. He is furious with Marco and threatens to hurt him. After some informal enquiries Brunetti is satisfied that 'the old man' is just shouting his mouth off and means him no actual harm.
Then Giorgio Tassini, the Night Watchman at the Glass Plant is found dead. Upon investigation he has also been talking bitterly about the Plant to everyone. Brunetti discovers he has a dossier about the Plant, claiming the owner to be responsible for his two year old daughter's bad health.
The Commissario must find out if it is Tassini's own guilt that makes him believe this or if there really is a case to answer by De Cal and the other next door plant owner Fasano.
My thoughts on the book:
My overall view on this book is an enjoyable read. I do still struggle with the Italian culture as for me it is so different from our own. So issues such as corruption, the Mafia and environmental laws I find difficult to relate to because of this difference.
What I liked about the book was the basic storyline. I liked the way the author used an environmentalist Marco and I thought it would be all about him and the struggle between right and wrong. But she merely used his character that opened up the story which was not about him at all.
However I did at the same time find the story really seemed in the early chapters to be meandering along without a specific purpose. There was no investigation as such and I waited with bated breath for something to happen. Which of course it finally did, I just thought she could have brought it all in earlier in the book.
As a result of this it was only the final few chapters when the book became exciting. Up to that point is was a routine story. That said something I like about the author's style is the way she leads the investigation so far but then leaves some of the conclusion open to interpretation. Allowing the reader to decide what would have happened in the end.
I have become accustomed to the lead character of Commissario Brunetti and over time I have learnt to enjoy the little interplays in the books between him and his family. However they have little to do with the plot or the investigation, they just seem to make him more likeable and human. That said the relationship the author creates between Brunetti and his senior officers is quite amusing and frequently makes me wonder how anything every gets done.
Donna Leon for my money writes from the heart. She is very good at setting the scene and through intelligent writing is able to get the reader hooked on the story even if not much is happening!! I do not feel it is her best novel by any means but still a well constructed and thought provoking book.
For me the book could have quite easily been a little longer in length. As everything seemed a little rushed towards the end. I would have liked to have considered the facts and had them spelt out a little more clearly.
Well worth a read. Not the finest moment by Donna Leon but an interesting and enjoyable piece of fiction none the less. A must however for any Donna Leon fans. I can imagine this as a good book to read on holiday, not too deep or riveting just a novel you can pick up and read a few chapters as the mood grabs you.
Published by: William Heinemann 2006
Amazon Price: £5.49
Web Site: www.donnaleon.co.uk
Thanks for reading
This review is also posted on Ciao under my user name.
CPTDANIELS November 2008
It is a luminous spring day in Venice, as Commissario Brunetti and Inspettore Vianello take a break from the Questura to come to the rescue of Vianello's friend Marco Ribetti, who has been arrested while protesting against chemical pollution of the Venetian lagoon, only to be faced by the fury of Marco's father-in-law, owner of a glass factory on the island of Murano. But, it is not Marco who has uncovered the guilty secret of the polluting glass foundries of the island of Murano, nor he whose body is found dead in front of the furnaces which burn at 1400 degrees, night and day. The victim has left clues in a copy of Dante and Brunetti must descend into an inferno to discover who is burning the land and fouling the waters of the lagoon. A man is dead - but will politics and expedience prevent the killer from striking again?