Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Welcome to Joanne’s 150th review for our SAPL Reader’s Blog!!

51kplqqp2nl._sx332_bo1204203200_Unto Us a Son is Given by Donna Leon

As I was reading Leon’s latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery I began to think that she’d taken a departure from her usual format. The story was interesting – Count Falier, Brunetti’s father-in-law, asks him to investigate his wealthy, elderly friend Gonzalo Rodriguez de Tejada who has recently put a plan in place to adopt a much younger man as his son. And as the particulars of Gonzalo’s plan unfold, along with the resistance to the adoption by his friends, Gonzalo abruptly drops dead on the street. So – a death – but one that is easily explained.

It isn’t until page 169 that we are faced with a murder. As Louise Penny stated in an interview on CBC Radio’s “Q” in 2017: “Murder is the beginning, not the end of the story”. It is at this point that the author explores human nature and the “real” story comes out. Leon is certainly on board with this premise and beautifully peels away the layers of this story to get to the core and ultimately, to the truth.

Masterfully written, with fully-fleshed characters and a setting that begs one to purchase an airline ticket to Venice (if only to eat one of Paolo’s glorious meals), this novel ticks all the boxes as a terrific read.

5 Daggers
Joanne gives this “5 daggers out of 5”.


Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51iqa6u465l-_sx309_bo1204203200_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!