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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Death of Faith (Commissario Brunetti 06)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2012
Published in the US as Quietly in Their Sleep, Donna Leon's sixth book in the Guido Brunetti series continues to engage, perplex and surprise in a way that few other "crime" novellists do. Brunetti's character unfolds, as do those of his family and his colleagues within the Venice Questura. So, for example, we read on page 256 that "Brunetti knew he was a man of many weaknesses: pride, indolence and wrath, to name those he thought most evident, but he also knew that greed was not among them, and so, when confronted with its many manifestations, Brunetti always felt himself in the presence of the alien. He knew it was a common, perhaps the most common, vice,and he could certainly apprehend it with his mind, but it always failed to move his heart, and it left his spirit cold." Amen! A complex novel, treating complex issues in an accessible fashion and doing so much more effectively than other attempts to shed light on the dark role and purpose of Opus Dei. My only regret is that this isn't available as a Kindle edition.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 July 2014
This, the sixth Commissario Brunetti novel, published in 1997, has also been published under the title ‘Quietly in Their Sleep’. It has lines from ‘Così fan tutte’ as an epigraph that read, in translation ‘It’s always better, in this world/ To be a little suspicious’. This is very apt for a story that sees the detective investigating the possibility that old people in a nursing home have been coerced into leaving money to the home and have died shortly thereafter.

One suspects that the vagueness of the allegation would not have interested Brunetti and his colleagues if it had not been for its source, Maria Testa, an ex-nun who had been very lovingly looking after the Commissario’s mother, and the fact that both Vice-Questore Patta, his boss, and Venetian criminals were taking their holidays.

Brunetti and Vianello look into the allegations but can find little to support them. This does give Leon the opportunity to describe a group of relatives of the dead, including two overly-religious women and a deformed man who collects snuffboxes. The conversations between the cynical policemen and these relatives is beautifully crafted, as are later conversations between Brunetti and his wife, Paola, about the problems that their daughter is having with her religious instructor, Father Luciano Benevento. Neither parent is religious but they realise the problems the family and their daughter, in particular, will face if she is seen to belittle the faith.

After dealing with criminals and the mafia, Leon sets her sights on the power of shadowy religious organisations, such as Opus Dei. When Maria is severely injured in a road accident, Brunetti ensures that she is guarded in hospital and steps up his investigation with the help of a team of loyal police colleagues and to the intense annoyance of Patta. As the detectives get nearer to the truth, the power and influence of Opus Dei is made very clear, and is all the more dangerous for being hidden.

Brunetti has met good nuns and some very bad ones – such as ‘Suor’Eleanora, a woman whom the course of years had turned sour and to whom the vows meant poverty of spirit, chastity of humour and obedience only to some rigorous concept of duty.’ He also remembered reading about an Irish priest ‘who had died of a heart attack in a gay sauna in Dublin, [and been] given the last rites by two other priests who happened to be there at the same time.’ Vianello’s sister had also been through a period of fanatical religious observance that ended with her marriage, ‘No room for Jesus in bed’.

When Brunetti tries to find out more about Opus Dei and similar societies he finds it very difficult, critical sources that he looks at have had all the relevant pages removed with a razor blade, which does not surprise the librarian in the slightest, ‘They destroy any article that contains information they disapprove of.’

The investigation reaches a successful conclusion but there are two late twists that come out of the blue, one good, the other bad. At the end the reader is left wondering about the mafia or the religious fanatics are the most difficult to bring to justice. Given its religious focus, some readers may be put off this book. That would be a pity as it shows Leon at the top of her form once again.
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on 7 February 2015
I don't know if Donna Leon is a Catholic or not but she certainly has no time for the Catholic Church as an institution which usually appears as a shadowy evil organization in her detective stories set in Venice featuring policeman Guido Brunetti.

Like her other books I have read, there is great emphasis on the character of Brunetti, his wife, children and colleagues, along with plenty of descriptions of Venice, at the expense of the plot.

This story involves a young ex-nun who is the victim of a murder attempt after she tells Brunetti about some dodgy goings on at a nursing home for the elderly where she works.

In Leon's world, unscrupulous priests - protected by the Vatican - prey on the elderly, whom they exploit for money, and the young, whom they exploit for sex.

By coincidence, Brunetti's own mother is in a nursing home and his daughter has a friend who has been sexually exploited by a priest. He then sets off on an investigation which, although it takes up a couple of hundred pages, goes nowhere as the plot is weak to say the least.

Leon is obviously aware of this and just wraps up the story by bringing in a reference to Opus Dei - a "secret" reactionary organization straight out of Dan Brown.

We readers are supposed to accept that Opus Dei is behind all the crimes in corrupt Catholic Italy that a poor honest cop like Brunetti is incapable of suppressing.
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on 6 August 2014
I read 5, 4 and then 6 due to supply problems - I would have liked them on Kindle from the start, as other reviewers say. I found the 4th one very dark at the end and too graphic so it was a while before I read this one. I found it very negative really. Her other stories have a balance of people and characters in each area of life she chooses, and some make surprising choices, but this one laid its theme on thick. All her themes are good and the decline of faith in Italy is a worthy topic, but this lacked balance. I'll try another and hope it improves. Might be better to read them in order if she's doing darker themes every so often.
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on 16 August 2015
Brunetti 6. I still do not have Brunetti 4. However this is yet a different subject. It involves Care Homes administered by Nuns and Priests from the Catholic church. And crime of course. Still not as complex for me as were the first three. Or perhaps it is me. I was so overwhelmed by reading David Yallop's books on the church in Italy that I probably went into this book with rather too seriously and with too much emotion. Of course the story is well told and the right sort of ending happens as it should, with a little bit of humour.
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on 12 August 2014
I have lend this book to theologians because the criticism of the
Various " bodies " of the catholic church is confirming " from the INSIDE"
by an OUTSIDER what educated thinking people know , but perhaps
Not in such detail! Frightening !
Excellent observations of the massinations of this unreal organisation
Run by FRUSTRATED men who do not live in the " REAL WORLD ".
GREAT INSIGHTS INTO THE WORKINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH .
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2012
Donna Leon writes vividly about Venice and her books are always a joy to read. She plots her stories well and her characters are realistic and memorable. This story about a nun who has left her order is good, but maybe not Miss Leon's best. Leon has written a number of books about Brunetti and Venice, maybe she should take a rest before she gets stale?
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2012
I have read 6 of these in the series now. Donna Leon writes using a template. Here follows the synopsis of a typical Brunetti novel:

A crime is committed. Brunetti finds a link to a rich and powerful person in Venice (are all those who live in Venice "rich and powerful"? Are there no ordinary people who murder, extort etc?) He visits them and his incompetent boss, Patta, (why are all police superiors incompetent?) gets an angry phone call, calls Brunetti into his office, berates him and warns him off the case. Brunetti walks home for lunch - the travelogue portion of the novel. Then follows the gastronomic segment as lunch is prepared and the inevitable philosophical discussion with his wife. Back at the cop shop, Brunetti makes a call to an old friend in Venice or a colleague, from another city, whom he has met on a course, for more information. He delves deeper getting Signorina Elletra to hack the necessary computer. This is usually the fashion segment in describing what she is wearing. He might, even consult his wife's parents for Venetian gossip, which passes for evidence. As ever, Brunetti ignores Patta, gets dodgy evidence which will never stand up in court and confronts the miscreant who says Brunetti will never make the charges stick. It seems the wrong-doer will get away with it but in the inevitable twist in the tail, Brunetti gets revenge in his own way.

Nicely written books but oh for reading one without the check list of elements above.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2012
Since seeing this book for sale at Marco Polo airport, Venice and thoroughly enjoyed reading the synopsis on the back, I am looking forward to reading my new copy soon.
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on 19 November 2014
must have read most of them by now very atmospheric an you get to know venice
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