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Death in a Strange Country (Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries) Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Something different for Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti, whose first case (Death at La Fenice, 1992) so expertly resurrected the closed-circle whodunit. This time, the murder of Sgt. Michael Foster, public health inspector at the American military hospital at Vicenza, produces such a pronounced lack of reaction--Brunetti's officious boss Patti insists it be written off as a mugging; somebody plants cocaine in Foster's quarters in the hope of heading off further questions; even Foster's lover and commanding officer insists she has no idea why he's been killed--that the fix is clearly in with either the American military or the Italian police. Patti pulls Brunetti off the case to work a burglary from a Grand Canal palazzo, but that--and more sinister high-level skullduggery--are predictably tied in too. No whodunit, but a measured, thoughtful conspiracy investigation that goes a long way toward extending Leon's range. This is definitely an author to watch. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Brunetti ... long ago joined the ranks of the classic fictional detectives" Evening Standard "What makes Leon's work especially unnerving is the sense that corruption is a continuing process ... The characters of Brunetti and his family continue to deepen throughout the series" The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries
  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014311588X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,399 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Eric C. Welch on October 30, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
I continue to be an enormous fan of the Commisario Brunetti series. For those of you who may have missed my earlier reviews, Donna Leon teaches English for the University of Maryland Extension near Venice and has lived in Italy for many years. She portrays the flavor of Italian life vividly, and it's clear that while she must love living there, petty and not-so-petty corruption is rampant. She makes delightfully wicked little comments. For example, the Carabineri major, interviewed by Brunetti on an American army post - not base, that's for the Air Force - waxes on about the characteristics of Americans. They tend to be arrogant, of course, but Americans are really too insecure to be truly arrogant, "unlike the Germans." Classic.
Brunetti is walking home through "battalions of ravaging tourists who centered their attacks on the area around San Marcos. Each year it grew harder to have patience with them, to put up with their stop-and-go walking, with their insistence on walking three abreast through even the narrowest calles. There were times when he wanted to scream at them, even push them aside, but he contented himself by taking out all of his aggressions through the single expedient of refusing to stop, or in any way alter his course, in order to allow them a photo opportunity. Because of this, he was sure that his body, back and elbow appeared in hundreds of photos and videos. He sometimes contemplated the disappointed Germans looking at their summer videos during the violence of the North Sea storm as they watched a purposeful, dark-suited Italian walk in front of Tante Gerda or an Onkel Franz, blurring, if only for a moment the lederhosen-clad tourists" with what was probably the only real Italian they would see during their stay.
An American soldier, Sgt.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Starr on July 2, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
As a USAF officer stationed in Northern Italy, this story brought knowing smiles and head-nods as I read it. Ms Leon has lived in this area for years and teaches at one of the American universities located on the major military bases here. Her depiction of the Italian view of our presence in their country was especially enlightening for those of us trying to live in our host nation without acting like "ugly Americans". Even if her characters and plots weren't interesting on their own--which they are--this book would still be worth it for any American living in the Venice area--especially those connected with the military. I've enjoyed all the books I've read by Donna Leon, but this one really hit home--I just hope it's not true!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on February 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When a young American man is found floating dead in one of Venice's canals, our man Guido Brunetti is on the case again. In this story, Brunetti discovers that the john doe is an American sergeant from the nearby US military base in the Veneto hills whose job was as the public health inspector for the military hospital. In all of Leon's books, Brunetti frequently finds himself constrained by those who should otherwise be assisting him. His supervisor, Patti, urges him to avoid digging and brushes it off as a mugging gone bad (in all of the Brunetti cases Patti finds more reasons than not to either pull Guido off a case, or insist that the important people who begin to appear implicated in a given murder could not possibly be involved and must be left alone) and even dismisses the case and has Guido assigned to a burglary of some art work in one of the wealthy homes on the Grand Canal. Brunetti finds planted cocaine in the man's small apartment, and has an initial interview with the man's associate, a young woman who is found later to have (questionably) committed suicide. The more obvious it becomes that Guido is not meant to discover what actually happened to the sergeant or more importantly, why, the more urgent his investigation becomes. Again, a delight to read Leon weave all the pieces together.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Rare thing! Write several novels in one. But Donna Leon do it always. One is about murder, second about venice, third about relations. Perhaps this is so unusual in crime stories? I found quite new world of Venetians who are dependant from one another. Everybody plays a role. A minor one or a bigger. It is fascinating. And comissario Brunetti is to solve not only the murder but first of all find a way how to behave how to talk. And watch how he talks. And how much can you say, saying nothing. Great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Who Dunnit Reader on September 2, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I spent time in Venice this summer and to prepare bought one of Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti mysteries. That was all it took to hook me- I am now reading the series in order and loving every minute. Death in a Strange Country is the second book in the series. While Leon's books don't have to be read in order, it does add to the enjoyment to follow the characters as they develop.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you liked Death at La Fenice, the debut of this series, you'll probably like the first 80 percent of Death in a Strange Country even better. Seldom have I experienced the joy of seeing most of the second novel in a series far exceed the debut. Unfortunately, the last 20 percent isn't nearly as good as the ending of Death at La Fenice so you will conclude on a down note.

A body floats facedown in a Venetian canal, bumping against the steps of the embankment in front of the Basilica of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. No one notices the corpse until an early rising woman peeks out to see if her husband's boat needs to be bailed out. I'm sure you can feel the rich setting that Donna Leon has wonderfully described for the beginning of the investigation. When no one can be roused on the night shift, Commissario Guido Brunetti is called at home and grumpily heads to the scene. Finding American coins in the deceased's pockets, Brunetti immediately knows he has a hot potato on his hands. Vice-Questore Patta, his superior officer, makes that point even more obvious by poking his nose into the case soon after the beginning.

When the autopsy reveals someone with expert knife skills has dispatched the young man with the American coins in his pocket, Brunetti realizes that this may not be a simple murder. The dead man's teeth show American dental work, and the police begin calling hotels but find no one missing. By analyzing some papers in the corpse's pockets, it looks like the man has come from the American base in Vicenza, near Venice. Could terrorism be involved?

Contacting the base, the MPs don't seem very interested that one of their own might be dead.
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