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About Face (Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries) Audio CD – April 7, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In Leon's 18th novel, Commissario Brunetti delves deeply into Venice's (literal and figurative) pollution, navigating the choked canals as he tries to solve the murder of a truck driver. When his father-in-law asks him to look into the background of a potential business partner, Brunetti becomes fascinated with the business partner's wife—a former beauty now ravaged by a ruinous face lift. If the story evolves slowly, David Colacci manages to keep listeners hooked. His deep and direct voice drives the narrative, and his seamless transitions from description to dialogue are particularly impressive given the book's range of accents, genders and vocal styles. Despite the strong projection of his voice, Colacci can still shift his tone with his vocal characters to convey two people talking in confidence. His interpretation of Leon's book proves an excellent example of how a narrator can improve the actual story. An Atlantic Monthly hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 23). (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. With her 18th stellar entry in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, Leon (Suffer the Little Children) continues to live up to the increasingly high standards set by each novel. Her latest brings the Venetian policeman into intertwining cases involving dangerous environmental hazards: mounting trash heaps and air and water pollution. As usual, the urbane, overeducated, laconic detective circumvents his self-indulgent, self-centered boss and other department dullards to solve a thorny murder case. Leon not only offers superb plotting and engaging dialog, but also captures the atmosphere of Venetian daily life. Thus, Brunetti enjoys frequent, leisurely meals with his wife and children. Leon's evocation of these meals is so delectable that readers feel as though they are participating in the repasts. For readers of literary mysteries, such as those by Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George. Highly recommended for all public and university libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/08.]—Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries
  • Audio CD: 1 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America; Unabridged edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602835667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602835665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A New Yorker of Irish/Spanish descent, Donna Leon first went to Italy in 1965, returning regularly over the next decade or so while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, China and finally Saudi Arabia. Leon has received both the CWA Macallon Silver Dagger for Fiction and the German Corrine Prize for her novels featuring Commisario Guido Brunetti. She lives in Venice.

Customer Reviews

Even the characters seemed a little tired.
An excellent writer with great characters and well developed plots.
J. B. Coughlin
Wonderful story, as usual with Donna Leone's Commissario Brunetti.
Enrico E. Massetti

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Larson VINE VOICE on March 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Donna Leon and Brunetti are known quantities by now. Some people don't like them; go figure. Many of us like them very much, and if you're in that group I think you'll like this one. Up to now I thought that Death at La Fenice, the very first Brunetti novel, was the best. It didn't have Signorina Elettra, but it did have Brett and Flavia. Now I think maybe this is one is the best. After 18 novels, you might think Leon would be starting to lose it, but I see no sign of that, in fact she seems to be getting better; this one is clean, spare, elegant.
Leon also just writes very well, that's a big part of the appeal, and if anything this one is even better written.

So if you're a fan of Brunetti, I can highly recommend this one; if you haven't met him, lucky you, but I'd suggest starting with the first novel, Death at La Fenice. If you start with this one, it's probably fine, but by now the characters are so highly developed that it probably works better if you're familiar with them. Vianello, for instance, doesn't play a big role in this story; Elettra's there, but you might wonder where either one of them is coming from if you haven't met them before. You might not appreciate Elettra's outfit of black jeans and white shirt if you don't know how she usually dresses. You won't be confused, necessarily; you'll just be missing a lot of texture.

This one is about crime and corruption as usual, and about cosmetic surgery and standards of female beauty (or is it?) There's a female character with a very distinctive appearance, in whom Brunetti is very interested, maybe too interested for Paola's taste. She's very interesting to the reader too, this one at least, but I don't want to say anything about her (spoilers).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I haven't read many of Donna Leon's books (my misfortune) but all of those I have read have had these things in common: 1) they are snapshots of Venice as captured by its most seasoned residents with the black frame of crime surrounding the beautiful picture, 2) the crime is timely and believable, maybe even something from recent headlines, 3) the story includes extended insights into the personal and professional life of Commissario Guido Brunetti, 4) I will be starved for good Italian food by the end of the book.

Ms. Leon writes with an eye for the familiar in our lives that is dressed up by the lovely locale. Don't some of us have insecurities with the families of our in-laws? And don't some of us have relationships in the workplace where we must tread carefully or avoid them altogether? And doesn't everyone worry about his or her growing children?

In "About Face", the story is as much about the lovely, disfigured woman Brunetti meets at the home of his in-laws as it is about the potential misadventures of her husband in the criminal world. And, central to the story, is the question of what Europe does with its garbage when there is no more room to store it in landfills. This part of the story is fascinating and a little research afterward yielded much the same information as Ms. Leon has woven into her book. This is an interesting read and, in my opinion, worth the time.

As I read, I either stop to look up words or phrases that are unfamiliar to me or I make a note to clarify them later. Here, perhaps, I've saved you the time (hardback page numbers):
4 - periwigs - basically, it is the long form of the word "wig" but it has come to mean the fancy, ceremonial wigs like those worn in regency France, colonial US, and British courts, etc.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. on March 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police is seated with a mysterious, scarred beauty at a dinner party, he thinks there is something unforgettable about her. He's right. In the days after the party, he's working on an official case involving the illegal disposal of garbage, and his father-in-law asks him to do an unofficial background check on a prospective business partner, who happens to be the husband of the lady in question. And in both cases, all roads--and bodies--seem to be leading Guido back to that strange, unforgettable face....

This is the 18th entry in Donna Leon's vivid mystery series featuring Guido Brunetti, and it's one of the best. The descriptions of Venice, the endearing cast of regulars, and the behind-the-scenes glimpses of the socio-political structure of contemporary Italy should make you a lifelong fan of the series. But this particular story stands out for another reason. ABOUT FACE is dominated by one of Leon's most unusual creations, a modern interpretation of the "femme fatale" so dear to the hearts of mystery lovers everywhere. Highly recommended.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A. Anderson on June 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the first five or six Brunetti mysteries, I was totally hooked. The characters sparkled. The hero was flawed only by being entirely human. His loving family is believable. The continuing characters are endearing. Venice -- beautiful, charming and damaged -- is a character by itself. But I got the feeling, after reading my way through the series, that Leon is becoming increasingly disgusted by the failure of the Italians to cure what ails Venice -- corruption (senior police officials, building departments, tax collection) racism and, in this book (as in some others), pollution. It seems that with each new book her view is less accepting of the corruption that is undermining Venice and the narrative voice becomes more outraged. And this emphasis would be fine but for one problem that undermines each successive book. In About Face, the dumping of corrosive and medical wastes is a horror, as is the death of an investigator. The second theme is the destruction of a beautiful woman through plastic surgery. Perhaps Leon meant the second theme to be a metaphor for the slow destruction of Venice by its government trying to hide, rather than address, its serious problems. But the dual plots don't unfold but rather clunk along unbelievably--and forgettably. They are not intertwined successfully, there is almost no dramatic tension and resolutions lack suspense, clever detecting or even style. Plotting seems to be failing her more with each new book. I love mysteries, I love Italy, I love good characters, I love good writing and for a while there, Leon had it all, so I am especially sad that was originally a really good read has declined as the series progresses. The series reminds me of Elizabeth George, another series author I adored until she ran out of the inspiration that made her Lynley and Havers series so terrific. Much the same loss of spark seems to have overtaken Donna Leon and I could not be more sorry to see it go.
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