"By Its Cover" by Donna Leon

By Its Cover - Donna Leon
Book 23, in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

Ms. Donna’s latest inspiration comes from the recent real-life thefts from the Girolamini Library in Naples and has finely offered us a tale that includes theft, blackmail, violence and murder. A rare book thief is the target in this latest installment.

This is a thoughtful and leisurely read that emphasizes on the way of life of Venice as much as on the crime, although as a fan since book 1 it is of no surprise to have anticipated this would be the case. Ms. Leon has followed the same formula for years now.

This old fashion detective is well aware of the corruption and class divides in his society and regardless of pressure coming from all corners he will find the truth. As in her previous stories the sense of place is exceptionally strong but lack a little on the investigating techniques. Brunetti meanders around Venice a lot and loves to describe what he sees and eats. In addition to the usual cast of characters in Brunetti's professional and private life, there are staff members at the library, a shadowy ex-priest who has been using the library as a refuge and reading room, and other temporary and permanent citizens of Venice. The book is just the right length to carry the story but short enough not to be taxing our endurance although it does leave loose ends and finishes too abruptly for my taste. The narrative is lively and is sharply written in a serene tone, the style is more intellectual and literary than some of the previous installments, and this is one improvement I appreciated the most.

“By its Cover”, is the standard Leon’s with these exceptions: less family interaction and description of food. This is a good and fast read.