Book Reviews: Two More from Donna Leon

Beastly Things (2012) by Donna Leon

A Question of Belief (2010) by Donna Leon

From prolific author Donna Leon, two earlier novels set in Comissario Brunetti’s Venice.

Beastly Things (2012) investigates the unexplained death of a nice but very unhappy veterinarian. Brunetti must unravel the sad story of his family and the people he apparently fell in with. Along the way, we learn far more than we want to know about where meat comes from.

A Question of Belief (2010) recounts the misadventures of a charlatan who appears to be fleecing an old lady of thousands. The nasty trickster is then murdered, and Brunetti must solve the crime. Brunetti’s investigation encounters corruption in the judicial system which requires courage and finesse to handle.

As always, these stories are filled with the charm and beauty of Leon’s adopted home, Venice. Leon populates this city with lovely people (OK, there are some nasty ones, too); Brunetti’s own family and friends, and other ordinary people. Her prose matches the refined, soft, sunny tones of Venice and its inhabitants. It’s beautiful stuff.

In these later works, Leon portrays the changing and disappearing city of Venice, sinking under the weight of pollution, mega-tourism, and the twenty first century. These books confront not only the tourist menace, but also the deep corruption in Italian public life. These are tough and painful topics, but Leon retains a civilized style that let’s her portray the truth without screaming.

I wish I could write this well!

  1. Donna Leon, A Question of Belief, New York, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010.
  2. Donna Leon, Beastly Things, new York, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012.


Sunday Wednesday Book Reviews

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