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By Its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

Donna Leon.
Publisher Atlantic Monthly  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 0.85 inches
ISBN 9780802122643
Pages/Publication Date 237/2014
Daedalus Item Code 73396
This item is not available.
Commissario Guido Brunetti receives a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library: someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. It seems that the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university, who fled the library earlier that day. Unfortunately, it turns out no such professor exists. As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply, until a harmless theologian, who had spent years reading at the library, turns up brutally murdered. Donna Leon's 23rd Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery is a love letter to books and those who love them—a standout even in this outstanding series. Atmospheric yet realistic, the Commissario Brunetti mysteries reveal the contemporary city that dwells behind the history and tourism of Venice, weaving social commentary, scenes of everyday life, and political machinations with the investigations at hand, while giving us real depth of character in Brunetti's humanity and love of his city.

"The premise involves the theft and mutilation of rare books from a private research library, and much of the action takes place in the library itself, with Brunetti inhaling the aroma of aging parchment and fondly remembering his student days. Ah, but amid all this biblio-love, there is a real crime—not only the theft but also the murder of one of the library's regular patrons. As usual, the focus rests with the people involved in and on the periphery of the case. Brunetti's concern is always with individuals: how they come to do the things they do and what that says about them and about us. At one point, the police pathologist muses, 'You know, Guido, at times I find it difficult to believe you do the work you do.' One might say the same of Leon: her books, despite employing the structure of traditional mysteries, are so very different from most crime novels, even those characterized as character-driven. For example, in one four-page scene in which Brunetti questions the brother of the victim, we see the unique sensibility Leon brings to the genre: sure she shows what a skilled interrogator her detective is, but between the lines, there is so much more: Brunetti's remarkable sensitivity to other human beings, his ability not just to see what they are feeling but to share those feelings and to internalize their melancholy. Above all, Brunetti is a careful reader, of people, of places, of situations, and he never stops at surface meanings. That's why we bookish types adore him the way we do, and why this will likely be one of his most-loved adventures."—Booklist (starred review)

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