By Its Cover – Donna Leon

By Its Cover - Donna Leon
By Its Cover – Donna Leon

Spring arrives in Venice and Commissario Brunetti is called in to investigate the vandalism and theft of illustrations from rare books, and entire books themselves from the Biblioteca Merula.

The library’s collection reflects its heritage and home – Venice – where Aldus Manutius‘ set up a printing press which during the late 15th and early 16th century published ancient Greek and Latin books, many in an innovative pocket size, which percolated across Renaissance Europe and beyond courtesy of the Republic of Venice‘s great trading empire.

With able assistance from Ispettore Vianello, Signorina Elettra, Commissario Griffoni, Boatman Foa, Officer Pucetti, the Venetian police track down  “a thief and a blackmailer,  a liar and a fraud”.

I enjoyed By Its Cover far more than Falling In Love. More of Brunetti’s musings, more time – but not too much! – with his immediate family, the aristocratic Falier inlaws, and friends.

Some lovely quotes too –

About books:

“Old books has always filled Brunetti with nostalgia for centuries in which he had not lives. They were printed on paper made from old cloth, shredded, pounded, watered down and pounded again and hand-made into large sheets to be printed, then folded and folded again, and bound and stitched by hand: all that effort to record and remember who we are and what we thought, Brunetti mused. He remembered loving the feel and heft of them, but chiefly he remembered that dry, soft scent, the past’s attempt to make itself real to him.” page 11

About the joys of Spring:

“As had happened to him since boyhood, Brunetti felt a  surge of directionless goodwill towards everything and everyone around him, as at the end of a period of emotional hibernation.” page 84

Publisher page: By Its Cover – Donna Leon