Death at La Fenice

By Donna Leon,

Book cover of Death at La Fenice

Book description

'A splendid series . . . with a backdrop of the city so vivid you can almost smell it.' The Sunday Telegraph

Winner of the Suntory Mystery Fiction Grand Prize

The twisted maze of Venice's canals has always been shrouded in mystery. Even the celebrated opera house, La Fenice,…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked Death at La Fenice as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I loved this book because of its Venice setting. Though Donna Leon is an American, she has lived in La Serenissima most of her life. I also loved the main character, Inspector Brunetti, and his wife, Paola. He carries the narrative forward, and we learn a lot about Italian policing.

I was engrossed by the story itself, about the murder by poisoning of a famous conductor at Venice’s historic opera house during a performance of La Traviata. Though he is used to the corruption in Venice, Brunetti is shocked by the number of enemies the conductor has made. It’s a…

I recommend this book because Donna Leon takes us inside the fascinating world of Venice. Her fictional detective, Guido Brunetti, is not only brilliant at solving crime (in her many Venetian novels) but has a delightful family (wife and two teenage children). La Fenice is the famous opera house of Venice, so we get to go backstage there as well as backstage in the city of Venice.

Meet Commisario Guido Brunetti, who works for the Venetian Questura. Though born poor himself, he is married to an aristocratic professor of literature whom he adores, and who makes fantastic food.   Brunetti is another honest man in a police force with a largely fluid sense of ethics. He is genuinely curious and admires people who can do things, making him generous in his ability and desire to work collaboratively. He lives in Venice and knows the city intimately, both at the highest levels and at the lowest, and he is especially cognizant of the twists and turns of officialdom, and…

One of the things I love about a great mystery is the author’s ability to open doors to an unfamiliar world and, within a few pages, make the reader feel right at home in it. Donna Leon is such an author with her Inspector Brunetti series that takes place in contemporary Venice. With a virtuoso’s feel for language, nuance, and pacing, Leon leads the reader on a gondola ride through both the bright lights and murky canals of Venetian society and culture, and into the shadows of the opera world, through the perceptive eyes of her ethical, food- and family-loving…

This is the first of Leon's epic mysteries set in Venice, centered around the urbane, clever and engaging, vice-commissario of police, Guido Brunetti. Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor dies painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice, the world-renowned opera house. Brunetti uses his acumen and wit to discover the perpetrator, all the while introducing the reader to the enthralling culture of Venice, its people, history, and cuisine. I felt as if I were there, at Brunetti's elbow, enjoying a wonderful visit to Venice! And the meals—che meravigliso!

From Margo's list on to take you to enchanting Italy.

The fascinating thing about the top-selling Italian mysteries is that they’re often written by non-Italians. I’m guessing it takes an outsider to notice and deftly highlight the subtleties of another culture. But Italy has also been a destination for so many ex-pats who are in love with the food and culture. Author Donna Leon is an American who has lived and worked in Italy for many years. Her detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti, is a learned man who seems well-adjusted, despite seeing the worst in humanity. This Venetian-based series is currently 30 books strong, so you have plenty to read before…

From Joseph's list on discovering Italian mystery novels.

Donna Leon has become the murder mystery writer of record for Venice. She lives in the Veneto, where she teaches at a university, so her intuitive understanding of Venice and the Venetian character is deep and reflexive. Death at La Fenice is the first novel to feature her signature character, Commissario Guido Brunetti, a man who represents all that is fine and good about official Venice but who also knows its dark secrets and underbelly, which, like so many citizens of the lagoon, he navigates with skill, despite his distaste at having to acknowledge the incompetence and corruption of those…

From Kenneth's list on Venice.

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