About Face by Donna Leon
|About Face by Donna Leon|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The eighteenth book in Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti series looks at the illegal transportation of refuse and the frightening results.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: April 2009|
|Publisher: William Heinemann|
|External links: Author's website|
Paola and Guido Brunetti were guests at a dinner party given by his parents-in-law, and Brunetti was charmed (Paola thought a little too charmed) by Franca Marinella, the young wife of an elderly Venetian businessman. Everything about her was beautiful, apart from her face which looked as though it had been the subject of botched plastic surgery and which had earned her the nickname 'la super liftata'. After the initial shock Brunetti forgot about it: they enjoyed chatting about the books which they both read. Marinella's husband, Maurizio Cataldo, was the real subject of the dinner party though - Paola's father was considering going into business with him and Conte Orazio Fallier valued his son-in-law's opinion of the man.
The next day, and back at the Questura Brunetti was introduced to Carabinieri Maggior Filippo Guarino, from Marghera, who was investigating the illegal transportation of refuse and in particular the murder of the owner of a trucking company. Guarino is paranoid about his own security and Brunetti soon understood why. A few days later the Maggior was murdered - shot in the back of the head and left on waste ground at Marghera.
There is, of course, no love lost between the Questura and the Carabinieri and there's a delightful chapter in the book where Brunetti and Guarino dance around each other, both trying to get information from the other without giving anything away themselves. Eventually they agree to contact a journalist whom they both know and trust to vouch for each other. The writing is brilliant: you can't help but smile whilst inwardly groaning because you can understand the reluctance each has to give too much away. It's an elegant metaphor for the stage of Italian government. Leon's the master of the telling phrase. This is her description of Franca Marinella's botched surgery: [Her face] expressed pleasant, permanent anticipation fixed there immutably by the attentions of a surgeon. Her mouth was set to spend the rest of its time on earth parted in a small smile, the sort one gives to the maid's grandchild.
All the usual characters make an appearance and the plot is excellent. There's no major twist at the end of the story, but the conclusion was nevertheless satisfying and it's a book I'll return to in the future.
Rather than read the book I listened to an audio download (which I bought myself) and which was narrated by David Colacci. I found his voice a little strange at first, having recently listened to Brunetti books narrated by David Rintoul, but it seemed irrational not to enjoy a book by an American author narrated by an American who is most probably of Italian descent and once I got used to the difference it was thoroughly enjoyable. Colacci has a good range of voices and I was never in any doubt about who was speaking.
Most of the Brunetti books will read as standalones, although you do get more from them if you read them in chronological order. There's no riveting continuous storyline which you'll be desperate to follow, but it does give a good feeling of continuity.
You can read more book reviews or buy About Face by Donna Leon at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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