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Death at La Fenice (1992)

by Donna Leon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Commissario Brunetti (01)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5671323,588 (3.64)353
A conductor succumbs to cyanide at the famed Venice opera house, in the first mystery in the New York Times-bestselling, award-winning series. During intermission at the famed La Fenice opera house in Venice, Italy, a notoriously difficult and widely disliked German conductor is poisoned-and suspects abound. Guido Brunetti, a native Venetian, sets out to unravel the mystery behind the high-profile murder. To do so, he calls on his knowledge of Venice, its culture, and its dirty politics. Along the way, he finds the crime may have roots going back decades-and that revenge, corruption, and even Italian cuisine may play a role.… (more)
Recently added byIrinna55, mlwheat22, Jackie9
  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 353 mentions

English (112)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (4)  German (3)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (130)
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
Took a while to get used to the writing style and the very non-American lack of HEA, which made the story all the more realistic.


I will say that the audiobook was annoying for its accents. It’s set in Venice, he is speaking Italian- so why is the English version read with an Italian accent as if he is in the States? ( )
  mimji | Apr 20, 2024 |
I love Commissario Brunetti, and I love the picture of Venice that Donna Leon always conjures up. The alleys between ancient buildings, those palazzi themselves, the little bars Brunetti frequents.... and so on and so on. So even before I get involved in the plot, I'm absorbed by her books. This however is a good story. The conductor who's murdered during the interval at a performance at la Fenice. Whodunnit? His wife? That soprano? Her lover? As ever, the result of Brunetti's investigation is an unexpected one, and convincing. Read it. ( )
  Margaret09 | Apr 15, 2024 |
An excellent procedural. The mystery at the center unfolded gradually and naturally. The commissario at the center of the story was a fairly complex character and the hints of day to day life in Venice were
Great.Especially enjoyed the resolution ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
This is the first novel of Donna Leon that I’ve read. It was recommend by my book group.

Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to investigate the death (via cyanide poisoning) of world famous conductor Maestro Helmut Wellauer, who died during intermission at the opera house, La Fenice.

There are a few suspects- like the soprano Signora Flavia Petrellli, or her girlfriend Brett Lynch. Or the widow, Mrs Elizabeth Wellauer. Or the former diva Signora Santina, who was a former lover of the Maestro, who was involved in the death of Signora Santina’s sister.

We learn about Brunetti’s wife, children, wealthy in- laws and his annoying boss, Giuseppe Patta. And of course we learn about Venice.

It was a good book. Slower paced until the end. ( )
  LuLibro | Jan 22, 2024 |
To be honest, that title was enough to grab my attention, and I didn’t need to bother checking the synopsis or encomia on the back of the book. I remember buying this some thirty years ago, and being immediately won over by the combination of the glorious Venetian setting and the character of Guido Brunetti as an engaging lead detective. In the interests of transparency, I would have to admit that I did eventually become rather tired of the series, but that was several volumes in.

Rereading this first instalment after so long I found it still held much of its original enchantment. Brunetti is a winning character – intelligent, articulate (in several languages) and compassionate, he would seem to be a model policeman, and one who lacks any of the dysfunctional foibles of so many fictional detectives. Indeed, perhaps the only concession to police procedural cliché is his fractious relationship with his utterly useless boss, Vice-Questore Patta.

The book follows the investigation into the sudden death of Helmut Wellauer, an internationally esteemed conductor during the first interval in a performance of La Traviata at the famous opera. It is soon apparent that his demise was murder by cyanide poisoning. Brunetti is called to the scene, and gradually discovers that the maestro had not been popular with his fellow performers, and despite his musical genius, he had been a particularly unpleasant man. The investigation throws up various shadows from the conductor’s past, sending Brunetti along a number of different, equally plausible trails.

Donna Leon does a marvellous job of conveying both the Venetian setting, and the fierce sense of independence from the rest of Italy that Venetians feel. I don’t think I will bother re-reading many more in this series, but this one certainly stood the test of time well. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 4, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leon, Donnaprimary 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
Lai, Chin-YeeCover designersecondary 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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
Why was it that, when children loved you, you knew everything, and when they were angry with you, you knew nothing?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
De Amerikaanse Donna Leon (New Jersey, 1942) werkte als reisleidster in Rome en als copywriter in Londen. Ze doceerde literatuurwetenschap aan universiteiten in Iran, China en Saoedi-Arabië. Na vele jaren in Italië te hebben gewoond, heeft ze zich nu in Zwitserland gevestigd, van waaruit ze nog regelmatig Venetië bezoekt. Haar boeken werden wereldberoemd door het charismatische personage van commissario Brunetti.
‘Donna Leon doet wat Georges Simenon niet meer kan: haar commissaris heet niet Maigret maar Brunetti, en het romantische decor is niet Parijs en omgeving, maar Venetië.’ – VN Detective & Thrillergids
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

A conductor succumbs to cyanide at the famed Venice opera house, in the first mystery in the New York Times-bestselling, award-winning series. During intermission at the famed La Fenice opera house in Venice, Italy, a notoriously difficult and widely disliked German conductor is poisoned-and suspects abound. Guido Brunetti, a native Venetian, sets out to unravel the mystery behind the high-profile murder. To do so, he calls on his knowledge of Venice, its culture, and its dirty politics. Along the way, he finds the crime may have roots going back decades-and that revenge, corruption, and even Italian cuisine may play a role.

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