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The Jewels of Paradise Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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The Jewels of Paradise + The Golden Egg (Commissario Guido Brunetti) + By its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition first Printing edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120649
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Fascinating. … her first stand-alone … boasts the same sensitivity to human behavior that distinguishes her Guido Brunetti series.”—Bill Ott, Booklist

“A veteran mystery maven weaves present-day Venice into a 300-year-old puzzle in this engaging stand-alone. … [The Jewels of Paradise] packs the charms of Venice into a smart whodunit.”—Kirkus Reviews

“While it is undeniably strange to be wandering through Venice without the protection of Brunetti’s solid presence, the young heroine of this novel is so winning that readers should find themselves forgiving the Commissario his absence. … The Jewels of Paradise is as much a tale about a young woman wising up and learning to fight more effectively for her own happiness as it is a mystery—though the centuries-old secrets that those chests contain are also pretty compelling. Commissario Brunetti is allowed to take a vacation once in a while, but only if his replacements are as wry and erudite as Caterina.”—Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

About the Author

Donna Leon is the author of eighteen novels featuring Guido Brunetti, all of which have been highly acclaimed, and the winner of the CWA Silver Dagger Award. She has lived in Venice for thirty years.

Customer Reviews

There's very little plot and what story there is, is totally implausible, boring, and goes no where.
Maybe we are supposed to be impressed and think that the author is really speaking from Venice or something - but it was really just annoying.
This Donna Leon novel is NOT about Brunetti or any of the strong characters from her detective series.
Anne M. Hunter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

179 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Julia Walker VINE VOICE on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love Donna Leon's books. I've loved them for 20+ years. And I was delighted that there was going to be a new character, a woman. Paola Falier is a character of/from whom I never see/hear enough -- mordant wit personified.

Caterina is no Paola Falier. She is the oddest combination of experience and cluelessness. She swans around various digital databases, but evidently can't imagine setting up the Italian equivalent of a gmail account. She loves Venice but conveys this with the catch-phrase "ridiculous beauty," substituting oxymoron for visual detail. What a cheat. And her voyeuristic interest in the family across from her window -- although it fits with her obsession about children -- verges on the deeply disturbing.

But _geeze_. This isn't a book; it's an outline. Certainly Leon knows the first rule of storytelling -- show, don't simply tell -- but she ignores it here. The composers >>> music get some detail, but not the living people. Venice -- even Venice! -- gets short-changed. We are told how ugly Manchester is, but there's not one single specific, not even about the rain. Ditto the food. The faculty dinner party at the beginning promised to be hysterical, but the author flipped us off with a few adjectives and an epithet or two.

The plot is an excuse for the music, and that would be OK if there were actually a plot; instead it's a collection of improbable circumstances. Things happen for 200 pages and then a thin, thin plot-let shimmers across the few remaining pages then things stop. I have two questions: if one famously rich and powerful branch of the Roman Church had the trunks for centuries and an even more powerful branch is backing this undertaking, why on earth do they need the farce of hiring a musicologist with 5 languages?
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By IRG VINE VOICE on September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As someone who loves (and knows more than a bit about) Baroque opera and who had thoroughly enjoyed all of Donna Leon's wonderful Inspector Brunetti books set in Venice, I was primed to read this new Leon tome. No, I wasn't expecting a Brunetti character equivalent in the world of musicology. But I was expecting the character enchantment and engagement that I had from the first pages of the very first Brunetti book.

Fifty pages in and I was asking myself how it was possible that this book was written by the same Leon who wrote the Brunetti books. The sentence structure, the style, the use of Italian phrasing (that required me to stop and look up the meaning as Leon provided none nor a context), the heavy-handedness with the research aspects of the storyline...the lack of interesting characters, particularly the main one, Caterina. I simply could not believe that this was written by the same writer who created and grew Brunetti. The same author who brought both ancient and contemporary Venice to life and explored a whole range of topics within the Brunetti series. And who made us feel as if we personally knew both Brunetti's work and real families. Vivid, interesting and never boring characters. (If you've read the Brunetti books, you know how well Leon handles the whole exploration of literature in them whether it's a discussion with Paola, Brunetti's literature professor wife, or Brunetti's own musings on various books. This is a marked contrast to how the music history bits are handled in this book. Night and day of difference and not in a good way.)

The theme of Baroque opera--including its history--could have been explored with a lot more intrigue especially in the hands of someone like Leon.
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78 of 88 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's exciting to see that Donna Leon's latest mystery is a stand-alone, not one of her Commissario Brunetti mysteries.

In The Jewels of Paradise, the protagonist, Caterina, is a music professor in her thirties, in a dead end job teaching first year music theory at a conservatory in Manchester. When she's offered a temporary position in her hometown of Venice, she doesn't ask questions, she just jumps at the opportunity.

Everything about the new job is a little off. The institute she will be working at doesn't seem to have any purpose and the lawyer who represents her clients is a little too smooth, even for a lawyer. Her assignment doesn't seem entirely plausible - examine the papers in two 300-year-old trunks for clues as to which of the two claimants should get the contents.

The papers belonged to a composer and priest of the early 18th century. The parallel mysteries of how this little-known composer came to write such beautiful music and why the clients think the contents of the trunks might be valuable take place over a few days. There is little physical action in the story, but the dual mysteries play out with a pleasant drip-drip of clues and an undertone of tension and menace.

I got caught up in the story right away and was hooked right up to the end. Even though my limited opera knowledge comes entirely from Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the composer in question wrote operas, Leon made it all perfectly clear. And yet I think the mystery itself lacked the sophistication of the Brunetti stories, in which Leon usually highlights a social issue in addition to a murder and the ending is rarely neat and tidy. The mystery of the Jewels of Paradise was less complex and had what seemed an almost Nancy Drew-ish solution.
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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.

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