Donna Leon is an American-born writer whose series of mystery novels is set in Venice, Italy. The city is very much a part, almost a character, in the books. Her detective is Commissario Guido Brunetti who lives in Venice with his wife Paola (a literature professor and fabulous cook) and their 2 children.
I have read the first three books in the series and so far each one has had some flaw that kept me from loving it. I keep reading them, however, because Brunetti is such a great character and the descriptions of the city of Venice are wonderful.
I cannot recommend these books without reservation, but I plan to keep reading the series and see where it goes.
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The detective was an appealing character, and the style of the writing was good. However, the mystery was totally lame -- there was one clear explanation for what had happened as soon as the body was found and after lots of wandering around in the victim's past and the lives of various people who were involved with him our hero figured out what was obvious from the beginning. In fairness, the why took a little longer to figure out.
Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I like the character of Brunetti, and I love the parts where he is talking to his boss and we hear what Brunetti wants to say. The city of Venice is a strong character in the book, which I also liked. I thought the mystery here was overly convoluted and not really thoroughly explained by the end. There is a grand conspiracy going on, and the unfolding of it for Brunetti is certainly dramatically presented, but by the end I didn't feel like everything had been untangled.
Dressed for Death by Donna Leon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I like the character of Inspector Brunetti, but the beginning of this book was WAY too preachy about respecting the transvestites. Brunetti didn't strike me as a neanderthal idiot in previous books so why does he have to be one here? Because otherwise the lectures on accepting gay men wouldn't be there. Show, don't tell would improve this aspect of the novel a lot. Once the soap box is put away and they start tracing money and uncovering corruption the novel improves a lot. I do love Brunetti's wife Paola. She spends most of this book in the mountains reading Henry James. At one point B. wonders if his lack of promotion is related to his wife being insane. I think it is, and he should thank her every day.
This post is part of the Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 at Mysteries in Paradise. I got behind on this and am working on catching up the letters I missed.