DEATH AT LA FENICE by Donna Leon
This is the first book in the Commisario Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice. Leon paints a picture of its beauty and its age as her characters walk the streets, climb the many stairs to their apartments, or huddle in their tenement-like hovels. The city is as much a character in the story as the people themselves.
Brunetti is a quiet, thoughtful man, who relies on his wits to investigate the death of Maestro Helmut Wellauer. The Maestro is found in his dressing room between acts of La Traviata, the apparent victim of cyanide poisoning. Brunetti concentrates on finding out as much as he can about, “Wellauer, the man” for here, he believes, he’ll find the answers that he needs to solve this case.
This was a quick, enjoyable read, with comfortable characters and an interesting plot and is reminiscent of Barbara Nadel’s Inspector Ikmen series, set in Turkey. Both provide a good story, and picturesque scenery. The occasional touches of humour make one laugh out loud and help to humanize the characters. Cozy reads for a winter’s day!