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By its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Hardcover – April 1, 2014
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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With its loudly reverberating echoes of the recent real-life thefts from the Girolamini Library in Naples, By its Cover will both delight and strike fear into bibliophiles’ hearts. . . . Leon offers a finely drawn tale that encompasses theft, blackmail, emotional violence, and murder, as well as a rich array of characters . . . [and] compellingly combines their workaday crime-solving with a detailed picture of a vanishing Venice.”Boston Globe
Fans will rejoice that staples of the Brunetti canonincluding conversations with his smart wife and frequent breaks for food and coffeeare very much in evidence.”Seattle Times
Donna Leon’s books . . . are routinely some of the finest mystery novels to come out of Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter). Her latest, By its Cover, will do nothing but burnish that reputation.”BookPage
One of her best in a long line of super efforts. . . . Brunetti’s wry internal observations and musings about everything from his superiors to his family are reason enough to come to the feast.”Bookreporter
Think of Leon’s latest Guido Brunetti novel as a love letter to her fans. . . . This will likely be one of his most-loved adventures.”Booklist (starred review)
This character-driven novel looks at the ravages of rare book theft on libraries, and, more broadly, the destructive effects of contemporary greed . . . on cultural heritage. [A] skillful evocation of the city’s charms, culture, and history.”Publishers Weekly
Brunetti and Venice and booksthere’s a totally delectable combination! . . . Truly a must-read for Brunetti fans.”I Love a Mystery
Donna Leon is one of the more unusual and satisfying writers of crime fiction in the current pantheon. . . . Brunetti is exceptional among detectives. . . . . Not since Simenon’s Maigret have we seen a detective so devoted to the reality and complexity of everyday life.”Sydney Morning Herald
Top Customer Reviews
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.)
Because this is a Brunetti story, in which differences matter, a distinction is made between books as art objects and the text contained on the pages of those objects. For rich collectors, the objects have more value. For the Brunettis, who live a book-strewn life in which volumes are left open and upside down, snuggled into cushions of furniture and perhaps even dog-eared, books are far more valuable for what they contain than for their appearance. And because this is a Brunetti story, perhaps this is a way to view people as well.
Brunetti is called to a Venetian scholarly library where old and revered volumes reside. Someone has been cutting out specific pages that are highly valued by collectors, while other rare and costly volumes are missing.
Suspicion immediately falls on a visiting American scholar, whose credentials soon prove to be false. Brunetti would like to speak with another man who spends many hours in the library -- a former priest who reads the works of older religious figures.
Adding to Brunetti's knowledge of this world are a library employee who helps retrieve books, the elegant library director and the woman whose generous donations form part of the damaged and stolen bounty. The benefactress is known to Paola's patrician parents, as is her wastrel stepson. But because she is not Venetian, she is not as valued by the small group that makes up the highest rung of Venetian society.
Donna Leon's compact story delves into the mystery of the underground market of rare books.Read more ›
Characters not well drawn or believable. Plot doesn't flow with reality. Ending too tidy and too sudden with not much of an explanation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Big fan of the series. With this one, though the plotting was capable as always and the focus on thievery in the world of precious books a nice twist, there was not enough of the... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Trent L Jones
Read it. Then sold it. I just got the latest novel from the library, and we will see if this was an aberration, or if Ms. Leon is written out.Published 1 month ago by Jeffry L. Smith
Any of the Leon/Brunetti canon is a cause for celebration. One of the best things we can say about the novels as a collection is that Leon never seems to publish out of a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Rev'd Dr. John L. Hooker
Always a good read, the books about Brunetti, even if this is not one of the best.Published 2 months ago by Thrillerauthor