Donna Leon's critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has attracted readers the world over with the beauty of its setting, the humanity of its characters, and its fearlessness in exploring politics, morality, and contemporary Italian culture. In the pages of Leon's novels, the beloved conversations of the Brunetti family have drawn on topics of art and literature, but books are at the heart of this novel in a way they never have been before.
One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem--the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn't exist.
As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent years reading at the library turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty.
"*Starred Review* Think of Leon's latest Guido Brunetti novel as a love letter to her fans, many of whom are librarians. The premise involves the theft and mutilation of rare books from a private research library, and much of the action takes place in the library itself, with Brunetti inhaling the aroma of aging parchment and fondly remembering his student days. Ah, but amid all this biblio-love, there is a real crime not only the theft but also the murder of one of the library's regular patrons. As usual, the focus rests with the people involved in and on the periphery of the case. Brunetti's concern is always with individuals: how they come to do the things they do and what that says about them and about us. At one point, the police pathologist muses, You know, Guido, at times I find it difficult to believe you do the work you do. One might say the same of Leon: her books, despite employing the structure of traditional mysteries, are so very different from most crime novels, even those characterized as character-driven. For example, in one four-page scene in which Brunetti questions the brother of the victim, we see the unique sensibility Leon brings to the genre: sure she shows what a skilled interrogator her detective is, but between the lines, there is so much more: Brunetti's remarkable sensitivity to other human beings, his ability not just to see what they are feeling but to share those feelings and to internalize their melancholy. Above all, Brunetti is a careful reader, of people, of places, of situations, and he never stops at surface meanings. That's why we bookish types adore him the way we do, and why this will likely be one of his most-loved adventures. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: It's a new Leon novel, and it's set in a library. Must we go on?--Ott, Bill Copyright 2014 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In bestseller Leon's elegant 23rd Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2013's The Golden Egg), a Venetian library director reports that several valuable old books have been either stolen or damaged. The likely thief and vandal masqueraded as an American professor, but he has vanished, and his credentials prove false. With few leads, Brunetti turns to a potential witness-a library patron and former priest dubbed Tertullian (after the early Christian author) by the staff because he spends his days reading the church fathers' works. Before the police can interview him, the seemingly innocuous Tertullian is brutally murdered-and Brunetti discovers some of the stolen volumes in his home. This character-driven novel looks at the ravages of rare book theft on libraries, and, more broadly, the destructive effects of contemporary greed-exemplified by cruise ships damaging Venice's fragile waterways-on cultural heritage. Leon's skillful evocation of the city's charms, culture, and history more than compensates for an abrupt ending that might leave some readers unsatisfied. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved