Acqua Alta – Donna Leon

Acqua Alta - Donna LeonAn early outing by Commissario Brunett, Sergeant (still) Vianello and Signorina Elettra who has obviously only just started her career as Patta’s PA.

Their investigation features international antiquities theft/forgery, the 1994 Xian Terracotta Army exhibition in Venice, the long reach of the Sicilian Mafia, and Venice’s infamous Acqua Alta.

Publisher’s webpage: Acqua Alta – Donna Leon

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

Doctored Evidence – Donna Leon

In Doctored Evidence Donna Leon shows us a slightly darker side to the good guys – Commissario Brunetti, Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra – but in the context of Italy’s obtuse legal system, and the power broking amidst the (absolutely not) great and the (decidedly not) good of Venice, you still root for them.

The trio become involved in a case apparently solved by arch rival, Lieutenant Scarpa – the murder of a widely disliked old lady by her immigrant maid, who was subsequently killed as she tried to flee justice. When a neighbour returns from a business course in England, however, this simple resolution unravels – on the morning of the murder, Signora Gismondi had found the maid on the street and in tears, deliberately locked out of the old lady’s flat having been told to leave without pay. Signora Gismondi not only took Florinda Ghiorghiu to the train station to travel home to Romania, but also bought her train ticket and gave Flori the 700 Euros which the pursuing police had found so incriminating….

Back home, Brunetti and his wife discuss the seven deadly sins; such themes are not included without reason.

I also like the fact that Donna Leon get her own revenge on the real life noisy neighbour whose TV set caused four summers of misery.

Publisher page: Doctored Evidence – Donna Leon

Drawing Conclusions – Donna Leon

When an elderly Venetian widow is found dead at home initial indications suggest a heart attack as the cause – but Brunetti is puzzled by bruises around her collar bones and by multipacks of different sized underwear and hotel-like bathroom supplies.

His investigation leads him to one of Venice’s most expensive and well regarded old people’s homes where Signora Altavilla spent time listening to residents’ stories and concerns, and to Alba Libera, a locally founded charity for abused women on the run.

Calling upon the assistance of the Questra’s computer wizard, Signora Elettra, Commissario Brunetti reflects yet again on his own moral and legal transgressions in the name of justice.

Author website: Donna Leon

Publisher page: Drawing Conclusions – Donna Leon