BOOK REVIEW: Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon


Title: Death at La Fenice
Author: Donna Leon
Publication: April 20, 2012
Publisher: Grove Press
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 354

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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice. 

But as the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture slowly begins to take shape–a detailed portrait of revenge painted with vivid strokes of hatred and shocking depravity. And the dilemma for Guido Brunetti will not be finding a murder suspect, but rather narrowing the choices down to one. . . .


I purchased this book as well as two and three during the pandemic from Thriftbooks. Why did I buy the first ones without reading them? Well because the series takes place in Venice, Italy.  Italy is one of my favorite countries ever.  I always tell my husband that when he dies I am moving to Italy to live.  It has embarrassingly sat on my shelf since 2020 when I purchased it, but I found them on my favorite place ever Audible, and decided to listen to them.  I am a mood reader so I don’t normally read the same genres back to back and since I just finished a self-help book I thought maybe a murder mystery would be nice. 

Guido Brunetti is a vice-commassario of police in Venice.  One night a Maestro is killed during intermission of an opera symphony.  He is the officer that responds to it.  He is quiet but very observant.  He quickly sniffs out that all is not as it seems in the Maestro’s world.  Ok, this book took me back to my youth where I devoured all the Agatha Christie novels that I could, both Miss Marple and a Hercule Poirot. It was a who done it that really had me thinking until about halfway where I figured out who killed the victim but I still didn’t see the twist that was there.

The mystery is very clean there is no overly dramatic descriptions of blood and gore.  He questions the subject in such a way that shows he respects them and isn’t going to rake them over the coals so to speak.  I loved the narrator as well if you are able to listen to it I recommend. His voice is quiet soothing and works with the mystery aspect of the story.  Hats off to th author for the way she described Venice.  It honestly took me right back to the city that I have visited twice and hope to visit more.  I could see everything in my minds eye and could even see some of the places that I have visited. I am actually really excited to read the next books that I have purchased and have already taken the steps to purchase them from audible to listen again. 

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