Mary's Library

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Five Star Mystery

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice (1992) while we were in Barnes & Noble. This is the first of the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series by Donna Leon. And although I have half a dozen other books in the works it was all that was to hand when I had a few free minutes as I waited for Wilhelm to emerge from Pet-Smart with some cat food so I began reading it.

And that was it for the rest of yesterday and this morning. What a fine book this is. Not just a good mystery, but a good book.

La Fenice is the most famous opera house in Venice and the book opens there as the orchestra returns to the pit before the last act of Traviata. The hall grows quiet, someone drops something, someone coughs. Everyone awaits the conductor.

But he doesn’t appear. Murmurs are heard from the pit, the balcony, the orchestra. And then the house manager stumbles on stage and announces that the conductor will not be able to continue and will be replaced by someone else.

Oh, and is there a doctor in the house.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I tell you the great maestro has been found dead in his dressing room, apparently of cyanide poisoning. And so the chase begins.


At 10:43 AM PDT , Blogger emasl said...

Mary - I have read all 15 of these in one month!! I got totally hooked on them and the combination of opera and Venice, two of my passions, caught my eye with this one. If the conductor is not based on von Karajan I shall be surprised. Though all these books can be read out of order with no loss of enjoyment, I would recommend that you read Acqua Alta next. This is the immediate one following Death at la Fenice and features the same characters. The others are all stand along. I have blogged about this at some length. I simply love these books

At 6:50 PM PDT , Blogger Mary said...

Acqua Alta is waiting for me at the library. I'm really eager to read more of these wonderful mysteries. Thanks for mentioning them in your blog, which is where I got the idea to try them.


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