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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It depends what you expect
As I close this book there are a handful of reviews here which all have something relevant to say. Among the disappointed are those who complain of slow pace and a plot which is often virtually static. True, but they bought the wrong book. Donna Leon doesn't aspire to write another Italian Job; she is, as others have observed, interested in moral issues, in personal...
Published on 14 Oct. 2009 by Gs-trentham

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Indifferent
Very difficult to review this novel. From start to finish, it left me indifferent, but I don't think that makes it a bad book, or one to be avoided.

The pace is modest. There are some good lines. The plot is best not examined too closely. Brunetti, by now in his seventh novel, should really be a fuller, better-defined character but he left me indifferent. All I...
Published on 24 Dec. 2011 by Officer Dibble


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It depends what you expect, 14 Oct. 2009
By 
Gs-trentham - See all my reviews
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As I close this book there are a handful of reviews here which all have something relevant to say. Among the disappointed are those who complain of slow pace and a plot which is often virtually static. True, but they bought the wrong book. Donna Leon doesn't aspire to write another Italian Job; she is, as others have observed, interested in moral issues, in personal relationships, in truth and justice and corruption. For example, she can deal perceptively with the fur trade in a couple of paragraphs, leave the reader thoughtful before turning the page. Her novels tend to have texture rather than line, and it is easy to believe that to be true of police work.

Devotees may regret that in A Noble Radiance there is less of Venice itself than in the earlier books, but that is compensated by further insights into the character or the Brunetti family. They feel more and more like real people who cook, worry about children, squabble and make up within the context of a family whose lives are touched by the Commissario's often unpleasant job.

Plotwise, the noble Lorenzoni's push the boundaries of credibility but just about survive. The coincidence of the role played by Brunetti's brother is crucial and artfully planted early; many a mystery story has relied on the device but it leaves a faint feeling of cheating. And not for the first time, Signorina Ellettra, with her contacts and her computer, proves to be the most capable detective in the Questura. But she is a secretary - and one whose generous disposal of public funds at the florists might one day merit a thought or two from Brunetti himself.

A Noble Radiance is a good book which, read with the right expectations, will entertain and provoke.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Indifferent, 24 Dec. 2011
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7) (Paperback)
Very difficult to review this novel. From start to finish, it left me indifferent, but I don't think that makes it a bad book, or one to be avoided.

The pace is modest. There are some good lines. The plot is best not examined too closely. Brunetti, by now in his seventh novel, should really be a fuller, better-defined character but he left me indifferent. All I picked up was that he liked food, his family and possessed a high sense of moral duty.

The ensemble cast were notable by their fleeting appearances although, like Brunetti, it is easy to have a soft spot for his secretary Elettra. Mrs Leon's style is untaxing and undemanding.

If you want an introduction to Brunetti and like a good whodunnit I would not start here. The 'suspect' list is very short. There are a lot of fans who read more into this author's work than is merited but that doesn't make this a bad book. It's just indifferent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - Great characters, great writing, great plot, 1 Feb. 2010
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
First Sentence: There was nothing much to notice about the field, a hundred-metre square of dry grass below a small village in the foothills of the Dolomites.

On the recently purchased property of a doctor near the Italian Dolomites is found the much decomposed body of a young man. Near it is a ring bearing the crest of the Lorenzonis, one of Italy's most aristocratic families, whose son had been abducted two years ago. Comm. Guido Brunetti reviews the file and decides to unofficially re-investigate the case. The more he learns, the more he questions whether the kidnapping was as it appeared.

Leon writes some of my favorite characters. Guido Brunetti has a strong moral and ethical code as well as a need to seek out what is just. He has a strong marriage and a close relationship with his children, although these were relatively absent from this book, and is developing a closer relationship with his wife's parents. Then there is the remarkable Signorina Elettra, of whom each reader should have the pleasure of discovering on their own. I particularly like that, in this book, we learn more of Guido's own family and his past. I also appreciate that we see the principal characters grow and develop with each book in the series.

The book is so well written and I love her use of language. There is a classicism to it that reflects the characters and the author and makes her books such a pleasure to read.

Leon creates a very strong sense of place that takes the reader along with the characters. I've not visited Venice, but nearly forget that when I read her books. Her descriptions of food always leave me heading for the kitchen.

The plot was very well done. In essence, it is a story of families and the impact they can have upon us. It is also a story of greed; for money, prestige and false respect. I've always respected that we see the progress of the investigation as Brunetti does, rather than everything revealed at the end. Within the story are scenes that are touching, suspenseful and tragic.

This was a very good book. I am delighted to know I have many more books in the series ahead of me.

A NOBLE RADIANCE (Pol Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-No. Italy-Cont) - VG+
Leon, Donna - 7th in series
Penguin Books, 1998, US Paperback - ISBN: 0142003190
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5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, each page contributes to the whole, 30 Jun. 2013
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7) (Paperback)
This is the seventh of Donna Leon's novels, published in 1998, about Commissario Guido Brunetti and his colleagues in the Venice Questura. The focus is on the social divisions in Italian society and, in particular, of the social and economic power of the Italian aristocracy.

A skeleton is found in an isolated part of Dolomites when a garden is being created for a newly-refurbished villa. The remains are linked to the kidnapping of Roberto, heir to the Lorenzoni family, who are much involved in businesses in Italy and beyond. Although the dead man's father, would have readily paid a ransom for his son, the kidnappers' demands were not followed up. In seeking background information on the family and the dead man, Brunetti is shocked to learn from his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier, that his daughter is unhappy. So Brunetti has professional and personal challenges ahead of him.

Leon's ability to describe a character in a few lines remains one of her great strengths. Thus, the Contessa who has just learned that the remains are those of Roberto "sat in the same chair, but now she gave the impression that the chair was in the process of devouring her, so little of her body seemed to remain within its enveloping wings". She is also cynical about Italian justice, "To many it seems that , during the time when the police are not labouring to bring criminals before their appointed judges, they are arresting or investigating those same judges".

Brunetti's boss, the puffed-up bullfrog, Vice-Questore Patta, continues to cause Brunetti problems but he manages to manipulate his boss as does Patta's secretary, Signorina Elettra, who buys flowers for the Questura and charges them to her boss's account. Not one to over-rate his boss's intellectual capacity, Brunetti tells his boss that he is looking into who would benefit from Roberto's death but gets no response. "Brunetti wondered if he were busy contemplating the interesting new theory that personal profit might serve as a motive for crime to see if it might be helpful in police work".

The detective, amazed by Signorina Elettra's ability obtain information from the her computer and from her contacts so quickly, compared to the using normal police channels, determines to learn how to use this infernal machine; whether this will help or hinder remains to be seen. Elettra is an interesting character and it remains to be seen how she will develop in future books.

At Roberto's funeral, in the church of San Salvadore, Brunetti feels sympathy for the deceased, dead at 21, "Almost all the mourners who trailed out of the church were elderly people. It was as if Roberto had been robbed not only of his future life but of his past, for he had left behind no friends to come and wish him farewell or to say some prayer for his long departed spirit". The funeral service continues despite the many tourists in the church, "Only once was the priest distracted from his duties: a crash sounded from the back of the church as a chair fell over, this followed by a muttered exclamation in a language other than Italian".

Unsettled by the case and worrying about his wife, Brunetti decides to arrange his books but gets distracted. He begins to read in Cicero's "On the Good Life" that moral goodness is "the ability to distinguish truth from falsity, and to understand the relationship between one phenomena and another, and the causes and consequences of each one", which causes him to review his thinking about the case.

Despite being shot at, Brunetti's closest brush with death in this novel comes as a result of the determination of his daughter, Chiara, to cook for her family. Brunetti "both asked for and ate a second helping of ravioli, covered in something he thought had once been butter, charred sage leaves mashed about in its midst". As a consequence of this good behavior his wife tells him a secret about her own cooking and informs him that she bribed their son, Raffi, to be equally positive about the meal/ordeal. There is a beautiful balance between Brunetti's professional/personal activities and we learn about his mother's Alzheimer's disease and also about his relationship with his brother, Sergio, who is instrumental in putting his brother on the right track.

Another excellent story by Leon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait, 19 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7) (Paperback)
The remains of a body are discovered in a shallow grave and a bullet hole in the skull suggests a murder has been committed. A ring found near the corpse links it to the kidnapping of a young man from a wealthy and influential family two years previously. Donna Leon's hero Commissario Brunetti, unhappy with the original investigation into the kidnapping, persuades his immediate superior to let him take the case. As usual there aren't any nail biting car chases (Brunetti does leave Venice in this story) or gun battles with gangs of villains, and the plot plods along as new facts are unearthed. Just when you think the outcome is obvious Leon pulls another ace from her sleeve, or is it a red herring? Brunetti's family life continues to add to the atmosphere as much as the Venetian background, helps to understand his character and explain why he works the way he does. Donna Leon does take advantage of her fans goodwill a bit by stretching credibility ever so slightly. Brunetti's brother just happens to be in a position to provide vital answers, and his aristocratic father in law is a mine of information when the rich and powerful are involved - which is often. And then there is the alluring super secretary Signorina Elettra who can find out virtually anything thanks to her personal contacts and computer skills impressing the rather dull and predictable Commissario a bit more than may be good for him. I have read six of the first seven books in the Brunetti series and, yet again, it came as a bit of a shock when I realised how close to the end of the story I was.The eventual explanations of all that has gone before are always worth the wait. Despite a lack of nail biting excitement I was engrossed from the beginning and finally reached the point where my deductive powers were about to be proved right when the villain(s) were finally exposed. Oh how the mighty are fallen - wrong again! I already look forward to Brunetti's next adventure.
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4.0 out of 5 stars NEEDS MUST WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES, 11 April 2012
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7) (Paperback)
Ploughed up in a field, the remains of Roberto Lorenzoni - two years after abduction and a ransom demanded. Commissario Guido Brunetti is deeply affected by the fate of the heir to one of Venice's oldest, wealthiest families. The twenty one year old may have been spoilt, extravagant and not very bright, but nothing can justify a life cut so short. Kidnapping represents rich pickings for the unscrupulous. The officer broods about the threat they so often pose and fears for the safety of his own teenaged children.

As ever, investigations take their time with so much to do. Local villains or a Mafia link? How many enemies made as the Lorenzonis spread to yet more countries their business empire?

Some may consider this a novel of two families. The Lorenzonis, nephew Maurizio now due to inherit. At its head, the Count strives to continue as normal, emotions held in check as tradition dictates. The Countess, in contrast, visibly deteriorates in both body and mind. Then there are the Brunettis, Guido's home life now even more precious. The domestic interludes, a feature of the series, here have special significance. (Note how all pull together when daughter Chiara serves the first meal she has ever cooked.) Yes, two families: the Lorenzonis who have lost; the Brunettis who savour their blessings.

A bleak novel which is destined to become very grim indeed. Lighter moments are thus all the more welcome. Highly (and hilariously) efficient secretary Elettra supplies many of them, and manages to introduce Brunetti to the computer.

Too slow paced for some, just right for most others. Although much this time is disturbing, one yet again warms to Brunetti - he so doggedly pressing on with understanding and compassion.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow-Paced Mystery with a Solution That's Hard to Swallow, 20 Nov. 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Noble Radiance (Hardcover)
It's a shame that A Noble Radiance is cast as a mystery. Take the need to solve the mystery out, and this would be an above-average novel about contemporary families in Venice.

Ms. Leon takes a long time to set up the mystery. Then, she has the investigation proceed very slowly as well. That would be fine if the resolution was interesting, unexpected, and credible. But to me, the resolution was nonsense: It just didn't ring true.

With much of the story taking place outside of Venice, there's not as much of the local color as usual. The best parts of the story relate to Guido Brunetti's father-in-law warning him about Guido's marriage to Paola, eating Chira's first dinner she's cooked for the family, and exploring Signorina Elletra's seemingly contradictory morals about getting secret information and making public investments.

Here's the set-up: A house and garden have fallen into ruin because the heirs are squabbling until a German buys the place for a huge sum and starts fixing it up. While the garden is being tilled, a bone sticks up that turns out to be human. As the police dig around, they also find a ring with the crest of a noble Venetian family, the Lorenzoni family, best known in recent times for having sold out the location of Venice's Jews to the SS during World War II. The family's son had been kidnapped two years earlier, and he was never found. When the autopsy shows a bullet hole in the skull of a young man, Commissario Guido Brunetti looks for a dental match. Finding one, he now has reason to dig into the kidnapping, looking for murderers.

The Lorenzonis have taken on their lost son's cousin as their heir. Was he involved? Why else had a motive?

As you finish this book, think about what the purpose of a family should be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a slow burn story., 17 Feb. 2014
By 
R de Bulat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7) (Paperback)
A Noble Radience finds Commissario Brunetti wearied and non-plussed: looking into what is, effectively, a cold case - the murder of a nobleman's son, a kidnap victim, found two years after the original case had come to a dead end. The Count Lorenzoni's family and people involved at the time, are uncooperative, clues as to who the kidnappers might be, non-existent and the body decomposed and indentifiable only by a ring and dental records which offers up little or no clue of the eventual solution. The pace is slow and the story weaves into the life and fears of Brunetti himself and those he loves: what if this had been his own son? In the end this is a very human story, full of contradictions and questions and the history of a family mired in scandal and full of secrets. Definitely a slow burn story, but a rewarding read by a first class crime writer. The ending is a surprise, the more so since there is no inkling or obvious relation to the ending in the earlier parts of the text, leaving the book just a little unresolved.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Leon, 11 Feb. 2008
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Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
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What I love best about Donna Leon's books is not the actual story, but the description of Venice and especially of the inspector and his family. I love reading about what they're having for dinner, about the inspector's love for his children and how he empathises with the families of murder victims. There's a sort of romantic cosiness to these books, you know exactly what you're going to get, you know the plot is not as important as the moral point Leon is trying to make, you know how the main characters will behave and so you can just sit back and enjoy a good read. All the books in this series are beautifully written, I'm working my way through them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Swept away to the grandeur and corruption of Venice as ever. Brilliant., 27 Aug. 2014
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Another enjoyable Brunetti novel. One does get involved with his family and eating habits in a very pleasant way. And this one has the wonderful Paola in trouble with the police for standing up for her beliefs as ever. Having recently been to Venice it made the experience even more rich. And the constant and all encompassing corruption at the heart of apparently all Italian civic departments is slightly worrying !
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A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7)
A Noble Radiance: (Brunetti 7) by Donna Leon (Paperback - 6 Aug. 2009)
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