I am a long term reader of Donna Leon’s excellent Commissario Brunetti series, set in Venice, but fell behind a bit. This was my binge reading effort to catch up. Glad I did it. These are (from left to right) numbers 27, 28, and 29 in the series. You can read them on their own, but if you are at all interested in intelligent crime fiction, I recommend starting with the first – Death at la Fenice.
- The Temptation of Forgiveness: Brunetti is asked to do something about the son of a friend of his wife’s who may be using drugs. Some time later, the boy’s father is found unconscious at the foot of a bridge. The investigation goes in various directions and our daring detective discovers – again – that crime is sometimes driven by the purest of intentions.
- Unto Us a Son is Given: Brunetti’s father-in-law tells him about a mutual friend who may be about to make a terrible mistake all for the sake of love. Cue one of Brunetti’s best tales, with several outstanding passages of writing delivering finely honed observations on love, life, and death. Outstanding in a field of high quality.
- Trace Elements: Brunetti is called to the hospice to hear a dying woman talk about ‘bad money’ and her deceased husband. Once Brunetti checks and finds out the husband was a field worker for a company responsible for checking the cleanliness of the city’s water supply and that he died in a hit-and-run incident, his investigative juices are flowing freely. In this particular case, the apparent difference between justice and the operation of the Italian legal system are all too clearly on show.
Fun fact: the books in the series are worldwide bestsellers, translated into many foreign languages, but not Italian! Why?
From this interview:
Q: Have you been asked by the Italians to get them translated?
Leon: Yes, all of the Italian publishers would kill to have them. I don’t want to be famous. I am spotted on the street by German, Austrian, French, Danish, everything… at least 3 or 4 time a day, and it’s always very nice and always very respectful; but I don’t like it. And the people in my neighborhood know that I am the American who lives opposite Nando and above Angelo Costantini and it would just change the tenor of my life. The unfortunate thing is that it has somehow percolated into the Italian Press that I am afraid to have my books published because the Italians may be offended by what I say about Italy. But, I am not afraid, if people don’t like the books, read another book, don’t read it, don’t finish it, give it somebody, throw it away.