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

4.4 out of 5 stars 206 customer reviews
Book 2 of 24 in the Commissario Brunetti Series

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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.


"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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
NOW I UNDERSTAND why so many people are crazy about Donna Leon’s detective fiction! Death in a Strange Country, published in 1993, was the second in her series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice Police, and it’s nothing short of brilliant. I’d made the mistake of reading her latest offering in the series, the twenty-fourth, Falling in Love, which I found unworthy of her reputation. Death in a Strange Country redeems her in my eyes.

The story in this novel revolves around two murder mysteries and a robbery, all of which Brunetti is assigned to solve. A young man, probably an American, is found dead floating in the water of a Venice canal. He may, or may not, be the victim of a robbery. Later, a young American doctor at a U.S. Army base outside a town near Venice is found dead in her quarters, dead of a heroin overdose. Finally, the Venice palace of a Milano industrialist is burgled and its owner sent to the hospital from a beating. In all three cases, Brunetti smells a story that would rule out the obvious explanation. His investigation of all these mysteries is hemmed in by his boss, a feckless and lazy Sicilian with a fancy title who is interested only in pleasing the powers that be and taking credit for any discoveries made by defying his orders.

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for twenty-five years. Her books have been translated into many languages — but not, at her request, into Italian. The true subject of Death in a Strange Country is corruption. Leon’s depiction of Italian society and especially the Italian criminal justice system is unsparing. Little wonder that she has resisted the translation of her novels into the local language!
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