Friday, July 06, 2012

A Nobel Radiance

A chatty bookseller in Seattle talked me (easily) into buying A Nobel Radiance by Donna Leon.  I love a good mystery.  I guess this one is from a series about Guido Brunetti.  He's a "commissario" in Venice.  In A Nobel Radiance, Brunetti is trying to solve the mystery of a kidnapping that occurred a few years ago, after a body is found.  Brunetti is married to a woman who comes from an old, wealthy Venetian family - Leon has a nice balance between her main character's professional and personal life.

I must say, the ending kind of took me by surprise - I did not see it coming (always kind of a fun experience).  The only odd thing about the book was it really could have taken place anywhere. Venice was not really featured at all, which I thought was strange.  Why set a novel in an amazing city like Venice and then not play it up?  Leon seems like a very understated writer, though.  I think she might like putting her action in the wings.  Most of the action is extremely even tempered.

One thing I did love was how much Italian she slid in, without translations, but easily understood.  Except for this sentence: "Qualche garbuglio si troverà." Ah, turns out it's from Figaro... "I'll find some way to mess it up." It was also written in 1998, with a healthy dose of internet/computer skepticism. "Before Signorina Elettra, newly appalled at his ignorance, could begin to explain to him just what a modem was and how it worked, Brunetti turned and left her office. Neither viewed his precipitate departure as a lost opportunity for the advancement of human understanding."

I'd be interested in reading more of her work - if anyone is familiar with her books, please let me know.

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