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Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Peter Pan

Toni Osborne's favorite books »

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"A Question of Belief", by Donna Leon

Book 19, in Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series

Ms. Leon is notorious at setting up highly charged atmospheric scenes with a Venetian flair and creating a wonderful cast of characters to go with it. In this latest mystery, we have once again, Commissiario Guido Brunetti dealing with a well-developed bureaucratic system built on stubbornness and corruption.

The story opens with Brunetti looking forward to a summer of fresh mountain air with his family and catching up on his reading. It is to be a well-earned rest away from the debilitating heat and the hordes of tourists that invade his hometown during the peak season. Before leaving, he agrees to help investigate the suspicious activities Inspector Lorenzo’s aging aunt seems to be involved with. Apparently her interest in astrology has attracted the attention of a new found friend and Lorenzo is worried because she has been regularly withdrawing large sums of money from her bank. He suspects she may have fallen prey to a swindler and has been duped by the charms of a notorious “faith healer”.

On another front, things start to move quickly on cases that have been delayed in court. It is suspected that Judge Luisa Coltellini and Araldo Fontana have been sidelining files for the benefit of one of the parties and reaping the rewards for quite some time. Brunetti knows this practice contributes to the lack of efficiency and ethics of the judiciary system, leaving a black mark on all. Before leaving on vacation he sets in motion a quiet investigation by his team.

His best laid plans and vacation is cut short, when it is learnt that Fontana has been murdered in a violent attack. His quiet investigation explodes and he is brought back in the thick of the action and into the simmering Venetian heat…

I am a fan of this series; the stories are usually refreshing, captivating and have an underlying message. Although interesting, this latest is not one of Ms. Leon’s best, I found the plotting lacked suspense and the pacing rather slow moving. Too many minor details bogged down the storyline and the mystery is overshadowed by long descriptions of the culture, the food and the architecture. In this novel or travelogue it appears Ms. Leon has let her love of Venice override her love for writing exquisite mysteries. Some may enjoy it and some may not……

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