July 12, 2009

Death at La Fenice - Donna Leon

Death at La Fenice is my first Donna Leon book - and I understand this book to be the first in her Commissario Guido Brunetti series following the Venice Detective in his work?

I do not read a lot of crime/mystery novels for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I work in this area and so I find myself either critiquing the novels from a professional perspective or feeling like I haven't really left work even though I am at home supposedly relaxing by engaging in my favourite hobby.

The other reason I do not often pick up this genre of books is that I tend not to like how they are written. I find that crime/mystery authors seem to use the "tell" not "show" version of writing which I find really annoying and a little patronising. I realise I am not very well read in this genre so I would love to hear from people who have read great crime/mystery authors that they would recommend.

In Death at La Fenice Commissario Brunetti is attempting to solve the murder of a famous conductor who is found poisoned in his dressing room backstage at the Venice Opera House. Brunetti systematically works his way through interviewing possible suspects and relevant people in the conductor's life and along the way we also see glimpses into Brunetti's own personal life as Leon sets up future novels in the series.

I did enjoy reading about the setting of Venice - and for me the city was my favourite character in this book. Brunetti was engaging - but in a distant, stereotypical police officer way - you wanted him to "catch his man" so to speak but other than that I didn't feel all that connected to him - not enough to make me want to read further into the series.

This was definitely a quick, light read (despite the content) and I did feel some satisfaction at the end having worked out the mystery for myself - something I am usually never able to do!


JoAnn said...

Interesting review...this book was recommended by a couple of different bloggers for my summer vacation reading challenge. I'm not much of a mystery reader, but the setting of this one definitely sounds like an attraction. It's beginning to look like I'll be spending the entire challenge in Italy!

Iliana said...

I love mysteries but I can understand why they wouldn't be your first choice. And, given that you know more about the ins & outs I can imagine it'd be harder to just go with the story knowing it's not right, etc.

I do like the Brunetti series a lot. I've read about 5 I think and the more I've gotten into them the more Brunetti stands out as a different sort of inspector from others. Some of my other favorites are the series by Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin and Martha Grimes.

Anonymous said...

someone suggested this series to me back in september, so i picked up one of the novels at the library. i couldn't get into it to save my life--and i love venice!

glad you had better luck than i did. maybe i'll try again with a different one.

Karen said...

Hi JoAnn - I can't think of a better place to spend your summer challenge!! I wish I was there!

Hi Iliana - I have read a couple of the Ian Rankin series in the past and I have really enjoyed them.

Hi booklineandsinker - I understand completely, I think if I had been in a different reading mood at the time I wouldn't have gone through with this one.

JaneGS said...

One of the things I love about the Brunetti series is the tone--rich, dark, melancholy, warm. I've read 4-5 and have enjoyed them very much.

Karen said...

Hi Jane - maybe I need to give another one a go??

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