1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
far from jewel-like,
This review is from: The Jewels of Paradise (Paperback)
Donna Leon's powers have been on the wane for some time, but this was the weakest effort yet. This mystery tale neither intrigues nor - save for a very short while - unsettles. Atmosphere is lacking: the beauty of Venice is referred to but never evoked and its corruption not shown (unlike in the Brunetti novels). Major and minor characters alike fail to convince or engage one's interest. The prose lacks the elegance which makes her other works readable. The denouement is actually of some interest, but, as other have said, is rushed through and one has to wade through pages of tedium to reach it.
Apart from all this, there are several irritating features: the unnecessary use of Italian phrases which not all readers will understand and of Italian forms(Mantova, Padova)for cities better known as Mantua and Padua, although she speaks of Venice and Vienna, not Venezia and Wien. The teacher-like tone which she uses to show the ignorant reader how to do research accords ill with her lack of knowledge of contemporary academic life, and the laziness verging on bigotry of her comments on unfamiliar settings. The vignettes of Manchester University seem to be taken out of the 1950s as do the comments on English novels, apparently fixated on miners going to church!
Even if you enjoy the Brunetti works, avoid this dull and dire book at all costs.