Falling in Love by Donna Leon

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Falling in Love by Donna Leon

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: I'm constantly surprised by how fresh Donna Leon has managed to keep this series - and this is the 24th book. Brunetti is reunited with a suspect from the first book - but this time she looks like being a victim. A very good read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: April 2015
Publisher: William Heinemann
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0434023585

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Flavia Petrelli, who will be remembered by regular readers of the Commissario Guido Brunetti series as one of the suspects in the first case, Death at La Fenice, has returned to Venice to sing the lead in Tosca. But this time it's Petrelli who feels that she is a victim and for the strangest of reasons: she's being inundated with gifts. It began in other cities - the yellow roses thrown, in abundance, on to the stage, but this time there are even more roses. Her dressing room is filled with them and there's even a massive bouquet inside the locked apartment building where she's staying. It was Brunetti who proved her innocence the last time and it's to him that she turns with this latest problem.

At first Brunetti isn't entirely concerned about what's been happening: after all, divas are known for their melodramatic temperament, but then another young opera singer, who has a very tenuous connection with Petrelli, is attacked and Brunetti wonders if Petrelli's obsessive fan is responsible. He's got to deal with Petrelli, too - one minute concerned for her well being and then reverting to diva type as she refuses to do anything which might upset the performance.

The star of the story is Venice itself and Donna Leon, who has lived there for thirty years, brings the city to life. It's not the tourist haunts - almost Disney theme park - which you see, but the city in which Venetians live and work. The end pages of the book are maps of Venice and you'll be able to move around with Brunetti and his team - on land or on water. The people fit perfectly with their surroundings, too. There's just that little bit of needle between the Venetians and those from elsewhere in Italy: even the language is different.

The characters we've come to love (or love to hate) are all there. Brunetti's home life straddles two worlds: the aristocratic background of his wife, Paola and her parents and the more normal life which they give to their children, now almost adults. Work straddles another two - the world of justice and the reality of achieving that without actually breaking the law. Signorina Elettra is the perfect example of this: she might be Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta's secretary but she's the person to turn to if you want some information that isn't strictly available to you. She's a superb character and could well carry a book on her own.

I read the book in two sittings (and was rather resentful that it couldn't have been just one) initially drawn in by the fact that there didn't seem to be a crime to investigate - unless it's a crime to give generous gifts anonymously - and then glued to the page as the tension ramped up - and everything came to a very satisfying finale.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Each of the Commissario Brunetti novels reads well as a standalone and if this book appeals then you'll also like the twenty-third book in the series. For more Venetian crime we can recommend Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin or The Lizard's Bite by David Hewson.

Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti Novels in Chronological Order

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