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There was a period a few years back when I stopped reading Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti mysteries. They seemed to be mysteries that were about everything except a mystery. Sure, I enjoy reading about different occupations, for instance, or social issues, but when reading a mystery, I still am there mainly for a good puzzle and a good story.

Fortunately, Leon seems to have developed a way of writing about the myriad of topics she is interested in, and still write puzzling mysteries with plenty of atmosphere for her old fans. By Its Cover begins right away with a promising crime, the theft of rare books from a Venice library. The pace is leisurely, lots of interviews and chasing down clues, and there's no murder until over halfway through the book. But that's appropriate for the setting, La Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic of Venice. No car chases here.

Though Brunetti seeks computer-wizard Signorina Elettra's help, she is unable to provide easy answers (as she has in past cases), so he has to rely on traditional police methods. This is much more satisfying in my opinion, since there are no magic answers pulled from the internet. Logic and evidence have to do the trick.

Meanwhile, Donna Leon is keeping up an impressive pace of writing lately. In addition to the annual Brunetti mystery, there was a collection of essays last December (My Venice), a non-Brunetti non-murder mystery (The Jewels of Paradise), and coming in April, a book about gondola building and gondola music (Gondola).

(Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a review copy.)
109 helpful votes
110 helpful votes
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on November 16, 2017
The intelligent literate language and the scenes of Venice are great as are the main characters. However, the author tries too hard to describe meaning into every gesture of the characters - that gets tiresome.
1 helpful vote
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on November 10, 2017
Another wonderful gem in this series. This time, they talk about books, so any book lover will enjoy it. I love the relationship between Guido and Paola. An excellent novel.
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on July 6, 2014
Donna Leon's newest Commissario Brunetti mystery is like most Donna Leon mysteries more about the mysteries of life than a model for the genre. Strong characters, a beautiful Venetian setting, intelligent commentary on the world today...what's not to like? Here, antiquarian books have become a commodity to be owned or donated to rare book rooms for their status value. The substance of a work, of chief interest to Guido and Paola, has little relevance to a world obsessed with monetary value. Italy's historic treasures aren't safe; thieves look to profit from stolen volumes, or pages slashed from them. Venality always at home in Italy as in the rest of this world entraps and ensnares. One could hope for more of Burnetti's children who are present only as regards their wishes for upcoming vacation plans, but a worthwhile read nonetheless. An author to be savored.
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on May 8, 2014
We are big Donna Leon fans, and eagerly await each new book. That said, they are not all equally satisfying. We both loved this one, and though the pace is slow, the ending brought together the threads that had been developing throughout, and the moral dilemmas linger well after reading the last page. Her writing is a pleasure to read.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on March 21, 2015
Commissario Brunetti, where have you been all my reading life? Because I am new to this series, I must take this installment on its own merits rather than in comparison to its forebears in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed its stately pace, its cultured characters, its immersion in the arts, architecture, foods and history of Venice, this living remnant of the Renaissance. I actually admired the abrupt ending, leaving me to piece together the inescapable truth. As I suspect is true of many of this series' readers, Venice has a special place in my heart, and I savored Donna Leon's evocation of its liquid ambience on every page. I'll be meeting up with the Commissario again.
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on April 28, 2014
The Guido Brunetti series tops my list of mystery stories not to be missed. Both my wife and I have read them all and it is a long list. The characters are consistent. You can keep track of time because the children age. To find interesting plots again and again is aided by the wonderful Venetian setting. Early books in the series had a city map to aid the reader in learning the layout. The descriptions of food and drink can truly make you hungry. And last but not least the background of Italian government and bureaucracy is both appalling and entertaining. Brunetti finds his way through it with help from friends and lots of patience.
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on April 24, 2014
I have read and enjoyed all of the Commmissario Guido Brunetti mysteries. However, this is the first one I read on the Kindle Paperwhite, which allowed me to easily look up definitions, translations etc., which greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the book. Before writing this, I checked out other reviews ... the lower rated ones, since I felt the book was missing something that I couldn't quite put my finger on. And, I am wondering if it was too short ... not enough time to flesh out the main characters. Also, the ending was a surprise to me. One character, a villain, "disappeared." I am guessing in real life police work that happens more often than we would imagine, but I would have liked to have known what became of him. In spite of these drawbacks, I am looking forward to reading more of Brunetti's adventures.
1 helpful vote
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on November 12, 2017
Im loving Guido and the reltionship he has with his family. His thoughts are often mirrored in my own. He is my hero!
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on April 8, 2014
Once again another opportunity to wander the canals and campos of Venice with Donna Leon. In the past the Brunetti books have usually each centered around twin themes, like the glass industry and trafficking. This time it's more diffuse, the central theme of robbery of rare books and pages from books from libraries, against the background of typical concerns about the extent of corruption in Italy and the weakening position of the Church.

Brunetti and others, and by extension Donna Leon, don't see the attraction of book collecting (perhaps Donna Leon needs to read some Lord Peter Wimsey).

The only downside in the story is the way it came to an end so abruptly (I was listening to the Audible audio book version, so there was little indication how much was left). More Brunetti!
1 helpful vote
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