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The Girl of His Dreams (A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery) Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Series: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139801
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: Reading The Girl of His Dreams leaves you no choice but to reconsider what makes a mystery novel so good. Certainly there's no denying the appeal of a hard-boiled crime story, where more often than not a brilliant yet battered P.I. drives you white-knuckled to the edge of your seat, but Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti--at once exactingly inquisitive and disarmingly sensitive--bucks that genre convention entirely. Here, in Leon's seventeenth Brunetti mystery, is a man who investigates the tragic drowning of a young Gypsy girl relentlessly, yet--in his thoughtful meanderings through the streets and cafes of Venice--also struggles to understand the human warps and weaknesses that make his beloved city so vulnerable. In the end, it's this pure love and curiosity for life (and, I admit, his lusty appreciation of daily luxuries like prosecco, good coffee, or a burst of sunshine) that make Brunetti such a seductive hero--so much so that you're willing to follow him wherever he goes. --Anne Bartholomew

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Leon’s latest Guido Brunetti novel begins and ends with funerals—the first for Brunetti’s mother and the second for an 11-year-old gypsy girl whose body washes up in Venice’s Grand Canal. As he launches what he knows will be a fruitless investigation of the girl’s death, Brunetti is assailed by the ironies of police work in contemporary Italy, where corruption is rampant and where his boss, Patta, king of the bureaucrats, prattles on about multicultural awareness while trying to protect the well-connected from any exposure in the matter of an insignificant gypsy’s death. But just as Brunetti is incensed by the way his peers ignore the marginalized members of society, so is he appalled by the callousness with which gypsy fathers groom their young children for lives of petty crime. More and more in Leon’s remarkably rich series, crimes have no solutions, and the problems of daily life yield no answers. And yet, as Brunetti reflects on his loss of the “capacity for instinctive trust,” we feel just that kind of trust in Brunetti himself, in the idea of a man overwhelmed by a malfunctioning society who soldiers on, doing what good work he can and finding solace in small moments of love and tranquility. It isn’t much, but in lives bookended by funerals and filled with frustrations, it’s what we have. This series becomes less about crime and more about daily life with each new entry, and as it evolves, it becomes clear that Leon deserves her place not only with the finest international crime writers (Michael Dibdin and Henning Mankell, for example) but also with literary novelists who explore the agonies of the everyday (Margaret Drabble and Anne Tyler, among others). --Bill Ott

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

Donna Leon is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed this series very much.
Ruth D. Bubba
This mystery novel in Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti series, set in an increasingly touristy Venice, is shorter and more clear than her earlier works.
Anne M. Hunter
The explication of those points is, however, not very interesting compared to other books in this series.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

116 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Isch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As reader comments on Mr. Nicholas's review have already made clear, this is probably not the Donna Leon novel to start with if you're new to the series. Start at the beginning with "Death at La Fenice" and get to know Commissario Brunetti, his family, his co-workers and his beautiful, corrupt city of Venice. If you fall in love with all of them, as so many of us have come to do, then you'll probably want to read the rest in something close to chronological order if you can.

Here's the list, in order, updated in March, 2013: "Death at La Fenice," "Death in a Strange Country" "Dressed for Death," "Death and Judgment," "Acqua Alta," "Quietly in Their Sleep," "A Noble Radiance, " "Fatal Remedies," "Friends in High Places," "A Sea of Troubles," "Willful Behavior," "Uniform Justice," "Doctored Evidence," "Blood from a Stone," "Through a Glass, Darkly," "Suffer the Little Children," "The Girl of His Dreams," "About Face," "A Question of Belief," "Drawing Conclusions," "Beastly Things" and "The Golden Egg."

This 17th in the series is a real treat, as expected. And Leon's in top form, again as expected. The murder at the heart of it delves into the gypsy life of Venice; the secondary story deals with a priest who's trying to unmask a clergyman he suspects is a crook--clearly one of them's a bad guy, but which? And before it's all over with, the whole Brunetti family, their in-laws, the Vianellos and Signorina Elettra, will all have gotten involved.

Sidenote: Once upon a time, presumably for privacy reasons, Leon, an American who lives in Italy, would not let her novels be published in either country.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Once again Donna Leon delivers another graceful and thoughtful Commissario Brunnetti installment. Leon's style of writing and the way she develops the plot my not be everyone's cup of tea, and "The Girl Of His Dreams" may not rank amongst Leon's best work, but truly, I really enjoyed the book.

When a childhood friend of Brunetti's eldest brother, a priest, Padre Antonin, approaches Brunetti about his fears that a scam may being perpetrated, Brunetti is suspect about Antonin's motives. Always suspicious about the clergy and having some not very good memories of Antonin, Brunetti is tempted to let the matter drop with only the most superficial of investigations. But Brunetti's queries reveal that Antonin may be onto something afterall. It looks as if a brand new Christian sect has opened up shop in Venice, and several of the sect members have been persuaded to donate money to the sect. Is Mutti a scam artist as Anotonin claims? Or is Antonin afraid that Mutti may prove too much competition for the Church? But before Brunetti can go further with his queries, he becomes involved in another criminal investigation, this time involving the suspicious drowning of a young gypsy child. The young girl's death haunts Brunetti and his colleagues so much that Brunetti resolves to figure out how this child died and bringing whoever was responsible to justice...

It is true that Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti novels have changed a little over the years, becoming more introspective, quieter and less complex. But the books are still compelling and make for very enjoyable reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeff VINE VOICE on November 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Donna Leon and her Commissario Guido Brunetti series. However, in a series with almost a score of entries, there are going to be some standouts and a few misses. This entry falls more towards the latter category.

The basic problem is that the two parallel cases which concern the novel (a frequent technique of Leon) are not of equal interest. One concerns shady fund raising from devout Christians. The other involves a young girl floating dead in a canal. Of these two, the former is not interesting. The latter is, especially after we learn that she comes from a gypsy family. Leon gives us many trips to the gypsy camp and her rendition of the gypsy culture rings as true as it is interesting. That story is quite good and well done, but every time it seems to gain momentum, we are pushed back to the clerical scandal. In her books, Leon has cast a jaundiced eye on the Church many times before. There's not much new here and it isn't a very satisfying story line.

As usual, Leon serves up very warm sketches of the family life of the Brunettis. The juxtaposition of the corrupt state of Italy with the health of the Brunetti family is a constant theme in the series, and yet Leon always manages to make our glimpses into the family life interesting. The local color about Venice as always, is also quite good. However, with 50% of the caseload being about an uninteresting case that seems to meander more than it develops, The Girl of His Dreams is not the best book in the series.
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