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


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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: 0.5 x 4.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

“A measured, thoughtful conspiracy investigation that goes a long way toward extending Leon's range. This is definitely an author to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Intriguing plot… Venice looms large as a well-painted backdrop. Its damp, crumbling beauty and tourist-mobbed sites are as vivid in Leon’s depiction as the rich tang of espresso boiling over.” —Publishers Weekly

“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 this series.” —The Times (UK)

“This series has become one of the adornments of current crime fiction. A gem.”
The Scotsman (UK)
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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

There didn't seem to be a conclusion, at least not a satisfactory one that I could tell.
Gina G. Blackwell
Donna Leon has written over a dozen Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, all set in the lovely city of Venice which she knows better than most guidebook writers.
C. D. B. Bryan
The support and comfort of family life stands out in great contrast to the corruption and miasma that seems to be omnipresent in italy.
Jeff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 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 18 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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22 of 26 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on October 9, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked this non-formulaic novel about a Venetian policeman dealing with a couple of unusual cases. The book opens with the murdered body of an American serviceman floating in the canal and we quickly meet Commissario Guido Brunetti as he takes the early morning call to investigate. The atmosphere and culture of Venice and of Italy infuse every subsequent scene to the point where it affected the pacing of the plot. Brunetti's family meals and concerns seemed to occupy equal space with the startling turns of the story.

Brunetti swims in a sea of corruption deeper than the sea surrounding Venice. It affects his supervisor, his comrades, his family--ultimately the concept of justice itself is swamped. Ultimately I felt that this work fell short of what I expected from a mystery by deviating from the standard mystery formula. Because of the constraints imposed by the mystery format it did not go deep enough into the story of a man who would do good but who is betrayed by the very system he seeks to serve.

Perhaps this is an issue of how the book was marketed. I am intrigued enough to read another book by this same author should one come my way. It seems like a good series although dark and pessimistic by tone.
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