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.