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Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

Death at La Fenice (1992)

by Donna Leon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Commissario Brunetti (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,204772,944 (3.62)225
  1. 10
    The Fallen Angel by David Hewson (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Leon is more atmospherical, more into Italy. In Hewson one finds more action and flashiness.
  2. 01
    Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon (Smiler69)

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» See also 225 mentions

English (62)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Commissario Guido Brunetti makes his debut in this wonderful mystery set in Venice. World-renowned Maestro Helmut Wellauer is taken suddenly ill after the second act of La Traviata – or so management would have the audience believe. But it’s clear to the doctor who volunteers her assistance that the Maestro is beyond help. In fact, he’s quite dead when she arrives at his dressing room. It quickly becomes clear to Brunetti that there are several possible suspects, and that the victim, while a musical genius, had a very dark history.

I was quickly caught up in the plot, and was kept guessing to the end. I also enjoyed the depth of character, and especially the relationship between Brunetti and his lovely wife Paola. This has been on my TBR for a long time and I don’t know what I was waiting for. So glad I finally got to it; I’ll definitely keep reading this series. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 2, 2016 |
Realized after the first few pages I realized that I had already read it but I read on. Commissario Brunetti is an unforgettable character. Who could not love and despair over the setting? ( )
  danhammang | Oct 14, 2015 |
The real main character in this book is not the detective, its Venice. Most of the book is devoted to exploring the city and a variety of its residents in detail. If you have been to Venice and love it, I'm sure you will enjoy this more than I did.

The mystery itself was pretty weak. I figured out what happened half way through the book, although I did not see the motivation until the end.

I will probably try the second one in the series in the hope that the author concentrated more on the story than the setting. ( )
  grandpahobo | Apr 7, 2015 |
I have always enjoyed crime series that evoke and explore a particular place. To the long running, hard boiled 87th Precinct novels by Ed McBain and the comically observed Roman world of Marcus Didius Falco from Lindsey Davies I can now add the Venetian investigations of Commissario Guidi Brunetti courtesy of Donna Leon.

In all three of them it is the central characters and the meticulously described worlds, situated in both time and place, that tug our interest and intrigue as much as the crime. In some respects the criminal investigation acts simply as a plotting scaffold for this leisurely unpicking of human nature and social milieu.

I very much enjoyed this story. It was a well crafted scenario that was gradually revealed. Like Venice trapped in the winter missed morality seemed to wobble and fade as the back story to the opening death of conductor Helmut Wellauer, poisoned suddenly during a performance. Even as I understood the likely whodunnit before Brunetti the final reveal was fascinatingly complex. More a gradual almost imperceptible glimpse at human secrets rather than criminal mysteries. The story is allowed to wander and breathe beyond the plot, much as the Venetian police approach their task devoting more time to food, coffee, wine and family than the work of working out who and why. There is much more to see and say about Venice and her inhabitants to become too obsessed with mere procedure.

Consequently reading this book was a pleasure like wandering along a beautiful pebble beach, stopping to pick up and marvel at pebbles that glisten like gems such was my enjoyment of the many well observed and well crafted scenes, moments and phrases along the way. Leon has a way of prising open a character or emotion with small moments of elegantly, poetic prose. These invite your imagination in. This was a book I carried everywhere with me looking forward to any moment I could pull it out and luxuriate in its pages for a while.

I enjoyed reading about the 87th Precinct and Falco's Rome seeing the characters and societies change and grow old over time whilst investigating each individual crime episode and I hope reading the rest of this series will prove as pleasurable. Leon's tale also featured a delight in ridiculing the self important, empathy for those trapped in unenviable situations and sympathy for the tactics people use to get themselves through the day.

The novel hovers in time around the late eighties and early nineties and it is curious how quaint a world it seems before the pervasive connectivity of internetworked computers and mobile phones. The investigative techniques interviewing, walking, messages, gossip, slowly put together records would not be unfamiliar to investigators in Ancient Rome or 1950s American cities. It will be interesting to see whether the series remains suspended in this time outside the sphere of instant information or gradually incorporates a changing world. ( )
1 vote culturion | Nov 21, 2014 |
I was pulled along well in reading the book, but found the ending something of a downer. ( )
  AmphipodGirl | Oct 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donna Leonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Björklund, Ing-BrittTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desmond, William OlivierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elwenspoek, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frogner, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuente, Ana María de laTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geer, LídiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gürdal, SinemTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ilić, BojanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Machado, Luciano VieiraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mejak, TeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Navarro, KoroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olejniczak-Skarsgå… MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patrum, NenadTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roig, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuurman, TitiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith-Hansen, AstaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tandori, DezsőTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vanagienė, JoanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Ah, signor, son rea di morte
E la morte io sol vi chiedo;
Il mio fallo tardi vedo;
Con quel ferro un sen ferite
Che non merita pietà.

Ah, sir, I'm guilty to death
And all that I ask is death;
Too late I see my sin;
With your sword pierce this breast
Which merits no pity.

--Così Fan Tutte
For my mother
First words
The third gong, announcing that the opera was about to continue, sounded discreetly through the lobbies and bars of Teatro La Fenice.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006074068X, Paperback)

There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice.

But as the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture slowly begins to take shape—a detailed portrait of revenge painted with vivid strokes of hatred and shocking depravity. And the dilemma for Guido Brunetti will not be finding a murder suspect, but rather narrowing the choices down to one. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:59 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When renowned opera conductor Helmut Wellauer is found dead in his dressing room, the victim of cyanide poisoning, Guido Brunetti, the Vice Commissario of the Venice police, must sift through several suspects.

» see all 3 descriptions

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