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Death In A Strange Country: (Brunetti 2) Paperback – 26 Feb 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099536595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099536598
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Brunetti ... long ago joined the ranks of the classic fictional detectives" (Evening Standard)

"What makes Leon's work especially unnerving is the sense that corruption is a continuing process ... The characters of Brunetti and his family continue to deepen throughout the series" (The Times)

Book Description

The second Brunetti novel from award-winning crime writer Donna Leon. There is another mystery for Brunetti to unravel when a body is found in the Venetian canals and a robbery is not quite what it seems.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thus opens Donna Leon's second Brunetti novel, building diligently on her first. The characters become deeper and the criminal landscape of Venice broader. We learn more about Brunetti's personal and professional life and learn to sympathise more with the impediments placed in his way by friend and foe alike.

I will not give details of the plot, save to say that it is credible and clever. We are kept on tenterhooks until the very last chapter, where the disappointment we had envisaged in the sight of crime not paying its proper dues is suddenly lifted through the act of a heartbroken mother.

My only complaint? The map is quite useless without a magnifying glass.

But I'm entranced enough to already be halfway through the third in the series, "The Anonymous Venetian".
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Format: Paperback
Donna Leon definitely caught my attention with the first book in this series, and now she has made me a fan of her wonderful work. Leon's excellence is based on three main concepts: a complex main character, an enchanting environment, and of course a well-crafted mystery. Commissario Guido Brunetti is one of the most interesting detectives I have encountered in quite some time. His personality and family life make him a character with which we can relate fairly quickly, and his uncompromising attitude towards delivering justice for those that have been wronged is one to admire. Venice is the perfect setting for this character, and allows Leon to use its canals and rich history to add mystique to the plot. And then there is the murder case, which is complex without being contrived, and keeps us interested until we find out the truth.

This novel starts at full speed, catching our interest right away, with a body floating in a canal on a quiet morning. Brunetti is soon placed in charge of the investigation and finds out that the victim is an American and that the killer was either very skilled or very lucky, since death came after a perfect stroke with a blade. When the victim is identified as a Sergeant in an army post in Vicenza, the case becomes much more complicated and Brunetti has to deal with people trying to mislead him and cover up the truth. On top of this, there is a second case, involving a robbery, which adds variety to the story and allows for the introduction of some really colorful characters.

Last time, Leon's work incorporated many aspects related to the world of Opera and classical music, and this time the canals and the way in which their currents work take center stage.
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Some time ago I wrote in a review of an Ian Rankin book that I wasn't really into crime as a genre. Something's happened since then and it's now my regular stress-busting bit of escapism and I have to 'fess up to being a convert to low-life detective novels(when it's good anyway).
Donna Leon is certainly good - Death in a Strange County is the first of her books I've read and there is an enticingly large array of other books by her to move on to. It was a single-evening read and delivered everything it should. Guido (the Venetian policeman) is a good hero - not too macho, not too fey - a palpable person. And Venice - I was there. Leon really manages to evoke the workaday reality of the city. I was unsurprised to find out she lives there as it was every inch the city I know.
Great fun, smooth writing, good characterisation and a plausible plot. Just what you need when the winter evenings are drawing in.
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Impossible to demur from the comments of other reviewers here, except perhaps from Professor Mitchell's revelation of too much of the plot and his down-playing of the dénouement (so strongly felt that he seems to have published it twice).

Donna Leon's books quite simply inhabit Venice. Those of us who know it only superficially find it easy to recognise and by the end feel we understand the city and its customs and hidden corners a little better. If we have never dropped in at that little bar for a coffee and a brioche, we can be sure we will spot it next time and not pass by.

The crime, of course, is intriguing enough to keep the reader turning pages but the pleasure is the setting in which it is wrapped: the place and the people. Above all, the people. Commissario Brunetti has few rivals in detective fiction for the way in which his character emerges through myriad small details. The reader sees him at work and at home, with strengths and weaknesses in both, but they are indivisible halves of the same man. If one were the victim of a crime, one would be fortunate indeed to have Brunetti on the case.

The Commissario alone would guarantee Donna Leon's rightful place among the best of her peers, but there are other subtle virtues not to be overlooked. In passing, Death in a Strange Country airs thoughtful views on immigration, on corruption, and on polution of the planet. And all this with a beautifully understated sense of humour.

At one point, Paola Brunetti makes a risotto for her husband. "He took two forkfuls, sighed in appreciation, and continued to eat ... Paola saw that he had passed beyond the point of hunger and was eating for the pleasure of the act ..." Contemplating the long list of Donna Leon's other titles, one experiences a similar sensation.
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