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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "She was eating an apple. The knife was on the table."
"She was eating an apple. The knife was on the table."

Thus confesses the murderer in this eleventh instalment of the Commissario Brunetti series. I am glad to report it is a return to form following the disappointment of the tenth, `A Sea of Troubles'.

This time we stay in the city itself and explore the question of honour. Honour is uppermost in...
Published on 10 Sep 2010 by Nicholas Casley

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars AUDIO CD....
Not too sure about this story at all.
I have read a few of the books, sometimes I think the writing is a bit tired and thin.
I prefer unabridged Audio versions, as, obviously, much of the meat of the story is lost.
Published 11 months ago by Briony Holyoake


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "She was eating an apple. The knife was on the table.", 10 Sep 2010
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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"She was eating an apple. The knife was on the table."

Thus confesses the murderer in this eleventh instalment of the Commissario Brunetti series. I am glad to report it is a return to form following the disappointment of the tenth, `A Sea of Troubles'.

This time we stay in the city itself and explore the question of honour. Honour is uppermost in Paola's mind as she teaches her students the works of Henry James and Edith Wharton, but they are also uppermost in Brunetti as events that took place in the city during the Second World War intrude into a seemingly motiveless murder of one of Paola's students at the university. Venice at all times has had its secrets, but those of the war seem to be the hardest to unravel, perhaps because their horrors were too great.

Donna Leon maintains her usual eye for irony and for the age. She notes how, "The Madonna had once saved the city from plague, and now there was a church. The Americans had saved the country from the Germans, and now there was a McDonald's." Her talent for exposing the seamier side of the city, for the things that the Venetians would rather the tourists did not see or hear about, remains untarnished. For of Brunetti's friend Marco, who complains of having to pay bribes to the city's planning office, "so much of what would be sold in his shop as `original Venetian handicrafts' was made in third world countries where the closest the workers ever came to a canal was the one behind their houses that served as a sewer."

I'm not sure that the contrived denouement fulfilled my expectations, but that goes, I guess, with the genre in which she writes. But perhaps my own frustration with her endings derives more from the frustrations of the Italian legal system rather than from her own imagination. Justice - and that honour which is the subject of this novel - are not, it seems, uppermost in the minds of many of those enmeshed in the country's legal system. Nevertheless, Leon is not totally off the hook, for there is something unreal about the fact that Brunetti and his wife only now, after twenty or more years of marriage, discuss what their families did during the Second World War.

It's good to see Leon give Vianello the promotion he has for so long deserved, but the currency has failed to be transformed from lira to the Euro, despite the book originally being published in 2002. Still, it's unfair to moan about these things when Leon has such a fine eye for a wonderful musical metaphor: "As formulaic as a Haydn symphony, the children's bickering had moved into an adagio but Brunetti, in expectation of the allegro tempestoso that was sure to come, closed the door and sat on the sofa ..." I sat on my sofa and read this book in (almost) one go: whilst not an allegro con fuoco, the theme of the novel's steady andante was a pleasurable experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-Notch Novel in This Excellent Series, 6 Feb 2008
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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To me, the best mysteries can be viewed more as novels than as puzzles to be solved. Donna Leon successfully crosses into this high ground of mystery writing with Wilful Behaviour.

In fact, such a successful novel can be read independently of the other books in a series. Wilful Behaviour also meets that test.

Do you like a book with memorable characters? Wilful Behaviour delivers both with characters that you meet in the novel and those who are described by other characters.

Do you like an intricate plot where all the pieces fit together in multiple dimensions? Wilful Behaviour once again is a good book in terms of this quality.

Do you like novels that reflect other novels, rewarding the well-read? Donna Leon delivers here as well.

Although I have always liked this series, Wilful Behaviour breaks out above the clouds in terms of being much better than the earlier offerings in the series.

In the story, Professoressa Paola Brunetti is approached by one of her better students, Claudia Leonardo, about a legal question that the student hopes Professor Brunetti's husband, Commissario Guido Brunetti, can answer. Guido resists providing any information without receiving more details. He meets Claudia and finds that her question relates back to the difficult days of World War II while Italy was part of the Axis powers. Not knowing much about those days, Guido begins to exercise his curiosity and learns about many hidden crimes from those days.

All of this becomes not so academic after Claudia is murdered, and many new questions are presented. In the process of investigating Claudia's murder, Brunetti learns about new levels of deception and depravity that some employ to achieve their selfish ends.

I have read a number of novels that relate to those days in World War II in Italy, and I found this one to be one of the very best.

Enjoy!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leon returns with a welcomed "number 11"!, 11 May 2002
By 
Billy J. Hobbs "Bill Hobbs" (Tyler, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wilful Behaviour (Hardcover)
For the legions of Donna Leon fans, her latest, "Wilful Behavior," could not come fast enough! And, as in the previous 10 spellbinders, Leon maintains her reputation as being one of the best in "police procedural" mytery business--and long may she wave!
Leon’s inimitable Commisario Guido Brunetti is true to form--and readers know exactly what this is: knight in shining armor in a city that seems to run endlessly in corruption, murder, intrigue. Venice is the setting for Leon’s books--a city that she knows well but never tries to deny its seamier sides.
A young student of Brunetti’s wife Paula comes to her asking for an opinion to a touchy legal situation, going all the way back to the days of resistance, retribution, and collusion of World War II (when the Italians certainly sent many mixed messages!). The young girl wishes to know if someone convicted can now be honorably pardoned. She provides scant information about the circumstances.
Alas, soon she is found murdered, and Leon’s talents move to the front. Brunetti begins the investigation and before he can label the case "solved," he must journey into areas "best left alone," if his critics have their say. The labrynthine situation involves a grand collection of art having been acquired under unscrupulous circumstances as Italy was falling to its knees in the whole War picture. Definite--and mostly negative--feelings were formed during this time, as Italian often pitted himself against Italian as political, economic, religious, and social issues quickly became life and death matters.
It takes all Brunetti’s skills as he uncovers anti-Jewish collaboration and abuse during the wartime, resulting in, now, at least two deaths. With the loyalty of his wife Paola, his dedicated secretary Elatra, his father in law, among others, Brunetti unravels this mystery in skilful, surgical style. Leon, by now, certainly is a master of this genre.
Her characters, especially Brunetti, are remarkably created and presented. The Commisario is a sensitive (and sensible) man, who can appreciate the best Venice has to offer, yet at the same time he recognizes her shortcomings...
Leon's quick wit, her command of the literary allusion, and her thought-provoking subplots (usually involving environmental issues!) combine to make her one of the best of the current writers. One can only hope that her next installment will be coming soon!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wilful Behaviour, 1 May 2012
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This review is from: Wilful Behaviour: (Brunetti 11) (Kindle Edition)
I recently took a short break in Italy so took two Donna Leon 'Brunetti' books with me on my Kindle. This was the better of the two, I thought. The insights into what happened in Venice/Italy during the second world war to people and to works of art was interesting. I love the detective and his knowledge of his city. He knows just where the best brioche can be bought, the right person to ask for sensitive information and exactly which boat will get him where he wants to go. I also enjoy his family, his lefty academic wife and his kids and of course, their meals. Brunetti's little incidental kindnesses are endearing as he gives justice an unofficial helping hand and the secretary who can find anything out by the internet in the space of a morning and still find time to fill the office with flowers is a star. No fireworks in the plotting and no flashy footwork in the style, just a good holiday read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "THE POLITICS OF AMNESIA", 20 April 2012
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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Student Claudia, precocious and determined, wants corrected an alleged wartime miscarriage of justice. Soon she is murdered. Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates - progress hampered because so many have much to hide about what they did in the war years....

Here is very much a "don't mention the war!" scenario - Italians generally kept in the dark, school textbooks highly selective about the role the country played. Amongst much else that is unsavoury, details emerge of widespread profiteering, misappropriation of art treasures, skeletons in cupboards of prominent figures. Movingly Guido and wife Paola also learn how their own fathers fared - such experiences forever to haunt.

This is a strong addition to the series - truth gradually evolving as the result of painstaking research. Invaluable, as ever, is secretary Elettra with her awesome (not always legal) computer prowess.

Brunetti remains increasingly jaundiced about what Venice has become. Pigeons and tourists equally annoying. Corruption rampant. Bribery a way of life. (He considers a poor notary as inconceivable as a celibate priest.)

He has no reservations, though, about the meals Paola serves - they veritable feasts, which make one wonder how he manages to achieve anything in the afternoons. Some feel domestic details hold things back a bit. Many, though, enjoy them, a more rounded portrayal given of a man otherwise bogged down in routine.

There is much to admire on many levels. Vividly depicted characters abound, a clear picture often deftly given ("a voice as flat as her bosom"). Some evoke special sympathy, their love so sadly misplaced. Much thought is provoked about the advisability of digging up the past. Is it sometimes better simply not to know? Another topic for the book groups!

Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theme: Italian failure to deal with Mussolini and their past, 31 July 2011
The 11th Commissario Brunetti is a classic whodunit story. It starts out with Paola Brunetti's student Claudia Leonardo asking both Brunettis, if her deceased grandfather, tried and convicted after WWII for art thefts, can have his honour restored to him. She and her step-grandmother feeling that he was innocent. Doesn't sound too funny of a plot line but when Claudia is found stabbed to death, the case suddenly gets complex.

Brunetti who loves history like myself, has to question his father-in-law, Count Falier, and his artist friend Lele, about life in Venezia during WWII. He is also forced to talk to a lot of people that still are of the opinion that Mussolini was the best thing that ever happened to Italy and what Italy needs now. When Claudia's step-grandmother from Austria, also dies, it seems like the crime can never be solved. But then something is said that finally makes things fall in to place for both reader and Brunetti. The end is sinister and very sad. A definite page turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Leon is one of the best, 6 May 2009
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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First Sentence: The explosion came at breakfast.

A student of Insp. Guido Brunetti's wife, Paola, visits him inquiring whether someone who had been convicted of a crime and is now dead could be officially cleared if shown innocent. Brunetti is not given enough information initially, but the question piques his interest. When the student, Claudia Leonardo, is murdered, the question goes from being a matter of curiosity to an investigation.

Leon is a wonderful writer. Her writing is intelligent, literary and thought provoking with cracking good dialogue. She is merciless toward the tempering of historical information, the corruption of the government and American tourists. She imbues her story with an underlying theme; in this case, honour.

Leon gives us such wonderful characters in Brunetti, about whose childhood we learn more, his wife, Paola, and the strength of their 20-year marriage, and the intriguing Signorina Elettra. One cares about her characters; not only the principals but, in this case, Claudia and her grandmother, because, I believe, of the strength of her central, Brunetti. The city of Venice is almost another character in the story.

The sense of place is so strong and, in spite of its faults, the obvious love Brunetti has for his city. The descriptions of the family meals make me want to join them. Yet, coming back to the theme of honour, Brunetti would have left his city because of a point of honour.

Under all this, is a well-plotted, fascinating, couldn't-tell-where-it-was-going story. I particularly like that the reader learn the information at the same time as Brunetti. When he is lead down the wrong path, so are we; when he begins to suspect, so do we.

I am a true fan of Ms. Leon's writing and am happy that I've many more books ahead of me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Super crime fiction. Brunetti in Venice is a winner, 29 July 2007
By 
BookAddictUK "BookAddictUK" (London) - See all my reviews
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The plot of Wilful Behaviour, the 11th Brunetti mystery, with its twists and turns, and its slowly evolving progression from senseless crime to convoluted conspiracy, is as good as crime fiction gets. But it's the character of Commissario Brunetti - fallible, thoughtful, at times indecisive and often wrong - that makes the novel, like the others in the series, stand out from the crowd. And that, together with the unusual and unusually evocative setting of Venice, makes Leon a must read for the casual reader and the crime fiction aficionado alike. Don't get me wrong, this is not great literature. But is it a great mystery and a thoroughly enjoyable and easy read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-Notch Novel in This Excellent Series, 6 Feb 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Wilful Behaviour (Hardcover)
To me, the best mysteries can be viewed more as novels than as puzzles to be solved. Donna Leon successfully crosses into this high ground of mystery writing with Wilful Behaviour.

In fact, such a successful novel can be read independently of the other books in a series. Wilful Behaviour also meets that test.

Do you like a book with memorable characters? Wilful Behaviour delivers both with characters that you meet in the novel and those who are described by other characters.

Do you like an intricate plot where all the pieces fit together in multiple dimensions? Wilful Behaviour once again is a good book in terms of this quality.

Do you like novels that reflect other novels, rewarding the well-read? Donna Leon delivers here as well.

Although I have always liked this series, Wilful Behaviour breaks out above the clouds in terms of being much better than the earlier offerings in the series.

In the story, Professoressa Paola Brunetti is approached by one of her better students, Claudia Leonardo, about a legal question that the student hopes Professor Brunetti's husband, Commissario Guido Brunetti, can answer. Guido resists providing any information without receiving more details. He meets Claudia and finds that her question relates back to the difficult days of World War II while Italy was part of the Axis powers. Not knowing much about those days, Guido begins to exercise his curiosity and learns about many hidden crimes from those days.

All of this becomes not so academic after Claudia is murdered, and many new questions are presented. In the process of investigating Claudia's murder, Brunetti learns about new levels of deception and depravity that some employ to achieve their selfish ends.

I have read a number of novels that relate to those days in World War II in Italy, and I found this one to be one of the very best.

Enjoy!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb book from an excellent author, 8 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Wilful Behaviour (Hardcover)
Donna Leon is an extraordinary author. Her books are uniformly superb, combining the feel and tone of literature with the suspense of the most vivid thriller.
In this book, Ms Leon delves into the shadowy world of art ownership as it intersects with the necessities created by World War II in Italy. It is hard to say more about the plot without giving too much of it away; suffice it to say that the plot holds together beautifully. This book grabbed me by the throat from its beginning. I finished it in one sitting, not because it is overly short, but because I was unable to move until it was done. This quality of suspense does have one drawback, however: I now have to wait until next year for the next Donna Leon to be published!
For me, the mysteries which form the bases of Ms Leon's plots are almost secondary to the atmosphere of her books. She is unsurpassed among mystery authors for the quality of her characterizations: I adore the glimpses of Brunetti's home life as well as the hints Ms Leon provides as to the nature of his character. The dramatis personae who move from book to book are equally fascinating, and I find myself frantic for her next book to arrive so that I can get to know them all better.
Perhaps the most remarkable attribute Ms Leon possesses is her ability to write books that, if filmed, would require a director with a film noir touch, but that nonetheless affirm the existence of goodness in humanity. In the midst of rampant corruption, Brunetti and his wife stand as an affirmation of integrity. In this novel, the heroine, who is also the murder victim, does so as well.
Again, this is a superb entry in the Leon series, worthy both of its creator and lead characters.
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