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The Death of Faith (1997)

by Donna Leon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Commissario Brunetti (6)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3264811,162 (3.57)90
Commissario Guido Brunetti is kicking his heels, pondering the recent lack of crime in Venice, when a beautiful young woman appears at his office door. Now calling herself Maria Testa, his visitor is more familiar to Brunetti as Suor' Immacolata, the nun who once cared for his mother at the Casa di Cura in Dolo. But Maria has recently left her convent after the unexpected deaths of five patients. Brunetti offers to make some inquiries but finds no obvious cause for concern. Is Maria simply creating fears to justify abandoning her vocation? Or has she stumbled onto a deeply rooted, far more sinister scenario--and put her own life in grave danger?… (more)
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» See also 90 mentions

English (40)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Least favorite of the series so far, I thought the ending was abrupt, the mystery was over shadowed by the messages about the Catholic Church and religion in general. I still enjoy the series and will continue. ( )
  almin | Jan 7, 2022 |
The Brunettis vs. the Church
Review of the Grove Press paperback edition (June 2015) of the original MacMillan hardcover (1997)

This 6th Commissario Brunetti investigation is a cat-and-mouse game where the Venice police inspector goes up against the secretive forces and bureaucracy of the Catholic Church and its secret society, the Opus Dei. The case starts when an ex-nun, who once was part of the order which cared for Brunetti's mother in a nursing home, comes to Brunetti with a list of what, to her, are suspicious nursing home deaths. Brunetti makes initial enquiries with relatives and members of the order and nothing seems untoward. But then the nun is severely injured in a hit and run incident and Brunetti senses there is more at play.

See photograph at https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYmVlM2ZmNmMtYzllZC00NTI4LTg5MzQtZjgzOTE4...
Actors Suzanne von Borsody as Mother Oberin and Uwe Kockisch as Commissario Brunetti in a film still from the German television adaptation of "Quietly in Their Sleep" (2004) titled "Sanft entschlafen" (To Fall Asleep Gently). Image sourced from IMDb.

Meanwhile, on the home front, daughter Chiara's report card reveals a rebellious streak against religious instruction and Brunetti's wife Paola is called to action when it becomes apparent that the school's religion teacher is a priest with a shady past of possible child abuse. The two investigations lead up to a couple of my favorite passages in the book:
'I said I'm going to stop him, and that's what I'm going to do,' Paola repeated, enunciating every syllable, as if for the deaf.
'Good,' Brunetti said. 'I hope you do. I hope you can.'
To his vast surprise, Paola answered with a quotation from the Bible: ' "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." '
'Where'd that come from?' Burnetti asked.
'Matthew. Chapter 18, verse six ...'
'No,' Brunetti said, shaking his head from side to side. 'It's strange to hear you, of all people, quoting the Bible.'
'Even the Devil is said to have that capacity,' she answered, but smiling for the first time and, with that smile, brightening the room.
Brunetti had always tried to avoid naming the person he suspected of a crime, and he tried to do so this time, but she could read the answer in his silence.
She got to her feet. 'If you've got to be up all night, why don't you try to get some sleep now?'
' "A wife is her husband's richest treasure, a helpmeet, a steadying column. A vineyard with no hedge will be overrun; a man with no wife becomes a helpless wanderer," ' he quoted, happy to have, for once, beaten her at her best game.
She couldn't disguise her surprise, nor her delight. 'It is true, then?' she asked.
'What?'
'That the Devil really can quote Scripture.'


I've been trying to follow the series in order of its publication, but I've realized that it is actually mostly frozen in time, with Brunetti's children hardly aging, although the books have now spanned almost 30 years. Quietly in Their Sleep does hint that there may be future conflicts with Opus Dei in the later books, as not all of the villains are satisfactorily brought to justice. The lack of complete closure though is somewhat a characteristic of Leon's writing as if in parallel to the real world.

Trivia and Links
There is a really fascinating interview with author Donna Leon at ItalianMysteries.Com even if it was done 18 years ago. She discusses all sorts of background to the books and characters and also gives the reason that she won't allow the books to be translated into Italian (and it wasn't because she feared criticism by her neighbours in Venice).

Although it was the 6th book, Quietly in Their Sleep (aka The Death of Faith in the UK) was filmed as the 7th episode "Sanft entschlafen" (To Fall Asleep Gently) (2004) of the German language TV series (2000-2019) based on the Donna Leon / Commissario Brunetti books.

An English language summary of the German language Commissario Brunetti TV series is available at Fictional Cities (Spoilers Obviously, although often the films differ from the books). As explained in the above interview, the TV-series was a German production as the books took off in popularity the most in the German speaking countries of Europe as Leon's publishing agent was Swiss-German and knew that market the best. ( )
  alanteder | Dec 29, 2021 |
A young nursing sister has left her convent concerned over five patients who have suddenly died unexpectedly. She comes to Commissario Brunetti with her concerns. She has no hard evidence that anything illegal has been done, what is curious is that each decedent has a wealthy estate and the possibility of it being left to the church

A connection for Brunetti is the nun was caring for his mother, who suffers from severe dementia. Brunetti agrees to check around.

Along with finding the beneficiaries of the deceased may have had their own wants met by their inheritances; there are also some ties to a dark and deadly scenario: one that could cause the nun’s death.

Brunetti again applies his methodical ways of researching in reaching a conclusion for this mysterious situation. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Sep 11, 2021 |
An expiration of corruption in the church. Well plotted but following a different trajectory than other Brunetti books. While the cat of characters is largely the same there are some interesting additions for the sake of the plot. Some are quite bizarre: a tiny little man who collects snuff boxes, and a religious zealot spinster.
The inspirer of the action is a young woman who had been a nun but abandons that life because of what she was as corruption in her order.
There is the implication of a sister plot in the church hierarchy to protect perverted priests. ( )
  waldhaus1 | Jul 23, 2021 |
coercion, discord, church-politics, law-enforcement, family, friendship, attempted-murder, murder-investigation, Venice, murder****

Very convoluted and begins with a premise of murder without any supporting evidence, all presented by a young woman who is only very recently no longer a nun. Brunetti starts to become involved on principle but finds many oddities. Then someone appears to try to kill the young woman and it's an even worse entanglement from then on. An odd plot (I only worked for nuns and I am not a catholic) but compelling.
I do enjoy listening to narrator David Colacci, especially his Italian (or is it Venetian) pronunciations. ( )
  jetangen4571 | May 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leon, Donnaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elwenspoek, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roiter, FulvioPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Жукова, Н.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph

È sempre bene
Il sospettare un poco, in questo mondo.

It's always better, in this world,
To be a little suspicious.
    --Così fan tutte,
MOZART
Dedication
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Für Donald McCall
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Brunetti sat at his desk and stared at his feet.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Commissario Guido Brunetti is kicking his heels, pondering the recent lack of crime in Venice, when a beautiful young woman appears at his office door. Now calling herself Maria Testa, his visitor is more familiar to Brunetti as Suor' Immacolata, the nun who once cared for his mother at the Casa di Cura in Dolo. But Maria has recently left her convent after the unexpected deaths of five patients. Brunetti offers to make some inquiries but finds no obvious cause for concern. Is Maria simply creating fears to justify abandoning her vocation? Or has she stumbled onto a deeply rooted, far more sinister scenario--and put her own life in grave danger?

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