Thursday, May 15, 2014

By Its Cover by Donna Leon

First Sentence: It had been a tedious Monday, much of it spent with the written witness statements about a fight between two taxi drivers that had sent one of them to the hospital with a concussion and a broken right arm.

Someone is stealing pages from some rare books as well as stealing whole books as well from a prestigious library in Venice. Their one possible witness is an ex-priest who has been coming to the library for years. It quickly becomes clear to Commissario Guido Brunetti that the man for whom they are looking is an American professor with credentials from an American university. Not only do they discover the credentials are false, but that other libraries in Italy have suffered losses as well.

This is truly a book that bibliophiles will love. Yet it is one that will occasionally make a bibliophile cringe. There is a wonderful description of old, handmade books.

It is nice to not always start with a murder, but to let the story build. That takes a truly confident writer. But be patient; the murder will come.

Comm. Guido Brunetti is such an excellent and appealing character. He is well aware of the corruption and graft within the government and the police department. Yet he believes in his job and works to bring justice. One wonderful thing about Leon’s writing is that her characters are anything but one dimensional. Brunetti’s family is just as much a part of the series as is he. For those who have followed the series, it’s nice to see how relationships have evolved. However, even for new readers, there is enough history provided that one never feels as though they are missing something.

Leon is an incredibly intelligent author. The things one learns, on a variety of subjects, are nearly as interesting as the mystery. She makes the reader curious to look thinks up and to know more. She provides small statements that make you think, and sometimes question the way you’ve thought…”It’s more important to understand people than to forgive them.”

By Its Cover” is an excellent and rather unusual mystery with an eyebrow-raising twist in the plot.

BY ITS COVER (Pol Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-Itlay-Contemp) – Ex
Leon, Donna – 23rd in series
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014

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