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A library in Venice loses some valuable rare books and others in its collection are vandalised. Brunetti is assigned to the case even though he believes it would be better dealt with by a specialist unit. It soon becomes clear that one of the scholars who has been using the library on a regular basis is not who he seems to be and when one of the other readers is found murdered the stakes become higher than even Brunetti suspected.

I enjoyed this subtle and understated story which is far more in the vein of earlier Brunetti stories. While there are asides about environmental issues these do not dominate the story as recent episodes in this series have to done to their detriment, in my opinion.

Here are all the favourite series characters including Paola, Guido Brunetti’s forthright wife, his aristocratic in-laws and his police colleagues – Patta, Vianello and the inimitable Elettra with her mastery of all things computerised. Venice is, as ever, almost a character in the story providing an atmospheric background to theft and murder.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 October 2015
By Its Cover is a slightly strange addition to the Brunetti series. It is very short, almost a novella, and ends so abruptly I thought I was missing a few pages but it is an enjoyable, if slight, read. Someone has stolen rare books from the Merulo Library and Brunetti is called in to investigate. There is a prime suspect, an American researcher, and a potential witness so it looks open and shut. Obviously there is a bit more to it but Ms Leon is more interested in describing Venice, Brunetti's food consumption and his musings on class and corruption than the actual investigation. In fact the ending is so abrupt there are more loose ends than resolutions.
As a crime novel this is a very disappointing read but as a gentle stroll through Venice it is a pleasure.
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on 28 April 2017
Have read many of these books set in Venice and it was nice to revisit, however it seemed incomplete just getting into the story and the feel of being back in Venice and it just ended sharply rather than tying up all the loose ends.
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on 13 May 2014
Donna Leon has brought us Commissario Brunetti over the years set in lovely Venice. This latest story concerning stolen ancIent books is interesting but lacks drama or tension and sort of peters out at the end! If you haven't become a fan of Brunetti yet it would not be a good introduction and I recommend you start an acquainanceship with the thoughtful Venetian detective in one of the earlier volumes! For fans it is adequate but not one of Leon's best..
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on 8 September 2016
Disappointing ending, the story itself was reasonably interesting, a bit pedantic as some of them are, but the ending was absolute rubbish, it was as if the author had just had enough and put down the pen and said that will do, no fastening up of loose ends, no satisfactory outcome, just nothing, would not recommend this book.
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on 5 May 2015
This is a seriously substandard Leon. It is half-hearted; the writer does not seem to be engaged with her subject. The novel has considerable padding: normally Leon's details are atmospheric or amusing; not this time round. This reader often felt: why is she telling me this?
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on 9 July 2014
I adore these books! I reread the series periodically, starting from the first one with lira rather than euros mentioned. This was very good as usual, with lots of little subplots and distractions with the dreadful Patta and his minion, Scarpa. The children are growing and maturing, Paola is still a remarkable character and Guido makes his jouneys aound Venice and untangles the streets and alleys for us as he simultaneously untangles his current case. Lovely.
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on 6 October 2015
An excellent example of the tangled web of seemingly every day circumstance. Delivers on several fronts, complications arising from trying to see the best in individuals accepting face value but neither being gullible; when it has a bill, webbed feet and quacks, yes, it's a duck. Jewel like, with the plot set in finely crafted prose. What's not to like? Nothing.
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on 24 January 2016
As usual the story reveals much about Brunetti. He is an intelligent person with a personality both warm and cynical. The story reveals more of his love for Venice and his ability manipulate the people he works with to achieve the results he needs. I will be reading more oh Donna Leon's novels involving the Brunetti family.
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on 4 August 2015
I read this book very quickly. I am uncertain if this was because it lacked depth or was just a little short of pages! The plot was very interesting but I felt the investigation was pedantic and lacking excitement. The book was missing the superb characterisations I have come to expect from Donna Leon. All in all a good enough read but not the best,
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