Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book, er, report: Through a Glass, Darkly, by Donna Leon

Through a Glass, Darkly is a Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery from prolific author Donna Leon. I've read and heard about this series often through the years, but for some reason never picked one up to read it.  It's our February book for the library mystery book club, so here's my chance.

(The cover on the library copy I had, only without the intensely 
annoyingly poorly-placed library stickers! Grrrrrrr....)

Commissarrio Brunetti is a very likeable detective, a contented family man, seemingly easy-going, thoughtful and honorable, but not naïve in the convoluted politics of Venetian power. This case starts out as a sort of off-the-books look-see on his part, having been requested by a friend of a friend to find out if there is really any danger of the 2nd friend's decidedly awful father actually trying to kill 2nd friend's husband, as he's threatened to do (before witnesses). It's all involved with Venetian politics, environmental malfeasance, and a couple of the famous Murano glassworks factories still operating in the city.

I'm not going to try to get into it any farther than that - for one thing, it's too complicated for me to try, but mostly to avoid spoilers. It does become a murder mystery, sadly, and as is apparently frequent in Brunetti's life, Powers-That-Be do kind of swirl around him and threaten his career but he never lets that take precedence over hunting down the killer.

After reading this, and enjoying it very much, it did occur to me that it doesn't have the nail-biting, heart-pounding dénouement we perhaps expect these days in murder mysteries. Again, I'll stop with that statement to avoid spoilers. It isn't that the stakes are not high, they are frighteningly high, but it's not resolved with car crashes and shootouts and high-wire theatricals. And that is just fine with me. Along with a great hero and a good mystery, it's fun reading about everyday life in Venice, a city I'll never get to. I'm really glad there are like, dozens of Brunetti books that I still have to look forward to!

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