A Question of Belief (Guido Brunetti Series #19)

( 33 )

Overview

"In Donna Leon's latest novel, A Question of Belief, Venice is baking under a glaring sun, and Commissario Guido Brunetti would like to escape the tourists. The hardworking Commissario's greatest wish is to go to the mountains with his family, where he can sleep under a down comforter and catch up on his reading of history. But before he can go on vacation, a folder containing court records lands on his desk, brought by an old friend. It appears that certain cases at the local court - hardly known as a model of efficiency - are being delayed to

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A Question of Belief (Guido Brunetti Series #19)

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Overview

"In Donna Leon's latest novel, A Question of Belief, Venice is baking under a glaring sun, and Commissario Guido Brunetti would like to escape the tourists. The hardworking Commissario's greatest wish is to go to the mountains with his family, where he can sleep under a down comforter and catch up on his reading of history. But before he can go on vacation, a folder containing court records lands on his desk, brought by an old friend. It appears that certain cases at the local court - hardly known as a model of efficiency - are being delayed to the benefit of one of the parties. This could be a creative new trick for corrupting the system, but if it is, what can Brunetti do about it?" Brunetti is also doing a favor for his colleague Inspector Lorenzo Vianello. The inspector's aunt has taken a strong interest in astrology and has been regularly withdrawing large amounts of cash from the bank. But she won't listen to her family, and Vianello doesn't know what to do. And just when it looks like Brunetti will be able to get away for his well-earned rest, a shocking, violent crime forces him to shake off the heat and get down to work.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Commissario Guido Brunetti loves Venice, but sometimes he needs a rest. The suffocating heat, the nearly unbearable stench, the summer onslaught of tourists, and the year-round dull corruption get to his nerves. One thing, however, can always rouse him out of this monotonous delirium: A homicide that defies easy solution. Like its predecessors, Donna Leon's 19th Commissario Brunetti mystery brims with Venetian atmosphere and unforeseen development. Editor's recommendation.

Marilyn Stasio
…the special atmosphere that permeates Leon's novels—and especially her latest, A Question of Belief—has more to do with the sense it conveys of a Venice teetering on the edge of oblivion and living on the faith that it won't fall in…While Brunetti is allowed to express his anger and disgust with a society that nurtures and protects its own worst villains, Leon is generous enough not to let this honest man succumb to despair.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Set during an oppressive Venetian August, Leon's masterful 19th Commisario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2009's About Face) presents Brunetti with two puzzles that impinge on his most intimate beliefs. Close associate Ispettore Vianello, who's worried about his elderly aunt's involvement with an astrologer, nudges Brunetti toward ruminations on the differences in male and female evidences of affection. Meanwhile, Toni Brusca, head of employment records at the Commune, who's perplexed by a female judge's erratic court case postponements, surprises Brunetti by implying that a woman could be more criminal than a man. Brunetti patiently untangles a sordid skein of desires warped, trusts abused, and loves distorted into depravity. As one good man who still believes in the rule of law despite his disgust at Italy's mounting corruption, Brunetti allows readers to share his belief that decency and honesty can, for a little while, stave off the angst of the modern world. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802119421
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Series: Guido Brunetti Series , #19
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,442,392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over twenty-five years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Her previous novels featuring Commissario Brunetti have all been highly acclaimed.

David Colacci has directed and performed in prominent theaters nationwide for the past thirty years. His credits include roles from Shakespeare to Albee, as well as extensive work on new plays. As a narrator, he has recorded authors ranging from Jules Verne to John Irving to Michael Chabon.

Biography

Donna Leon's love affair with Italy began in the mid-1960s when she visited for the first time. She returned frequently over the course of the next decade, while working as a teacher in such far-flung paces as Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, England, Iran, and China. In the 1980s, the New Jersey native made the decision to move to Venice, where she still lives.

Leon's writing career began accidentally. One evening, following a performance at Venice's famous opera house, Teatro La Fenice, Leon and some friends were discussing a certain conductor they all heartily disliked. Someone jokingly suggested killing him off; and when the conversation turned to how, where, and why, suddenly the idea for a dandy murder mystery took shape in Leon's mind. Published in 1992, Death at La Fenice introduced Commissario Guido Brunetti, the melancholy Venetian policeman who would go on to star in a series of witty, intelligently plotted, and critically acclaimed detective novels.

Brunetti is, indeed, one of the most appealing characters in crime fiction, and one of the pleasures of the series is the revelation of new and surprising facets to his personality. Intellectual, introspective, and world weary, he is also happily married, totally committed to his job, and a lover of classical music, good food, and jokes. But, above all, Guido Brunetti is "Venetian to the bone" -- born into and shaped by a society filled with cultural contradictions. Through her detective's eyes, Leon illuminates the central paradox of Venice: Beneath the ravishing beauty and civilized veneer lurks a core of insidious and utterly pervasive corruption. Brunetti's cynicism stems from his inability to stem the tide -- although, bless his heart, he never stops trying.

Elegant writing, deft characterization, and lots of local color elevate the Brunetti novels above run-of-the-mill series, and Leon's reputation has grown with each installment. But although her books are international bestsellers, they have never been translated into Italian. The author explained why in an interview with National Public Radio: " I do not take any pleasure whatsoever in being a famous person. The tenor of my life would change if these books were translated into Italian, because I'm completely anonymous here." Anonymous in Venice, perhaps. Elsewhere, Donna Leon is a rock star!

Good To Know

An opera buff with a passion for baroque music, Leon has written the libretto for a comic opera entitled Dona Gallina.

For a few years, Leon reviewed crime fiction for the Sunday Times.

In Germany, several of the Commissario Brunetti novels have been adapted into television mini-series.

A woman of strong opinions, Leon reads voraciously for topical issues to use in her novels. Among the serious matters she has written about are industrial pollution, human trafficking, illegal adoption, and corruption in the Catholic Church.

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    1. Hometown:
      Venice, Italy
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 28, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Montclair, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., 1964; M.A. 1969; postgraduate work in English literature

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 33 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    fun police procedural

    August is always hot in Venice, but police Commisario Guido Brunetti feels a different kind of heat as the tourists seem underfoot everywhere and the cop wants to escape the city with his family into the cooling mountains. The Commune employment records supervisor Toni Brusca makes a strong case that women can prove to be more deviously criminal than men; the evidence provided is the court record of a female judge who postpones cases that benefit one side.

    As Brunetti ponders the allegation of misconduct on the bench, he knows he can do nothing about it though he wonders if the judge in question is skimming personal profit from the advantages she gives to one team. Since he has no play in the latest judicial corruption as Italy has become the perfect capitalist government run by sleaze and dishonesty, Brunetti begins to shut down with his vacation about to begin. Then the violent crime occurs that is in his jurisdiction so though he could sneak away on his R&R pretending not to know, Brunetti begins his investigation with a sigh.

    Brunetti is a throwback police detective who believes in the honesty of man though overwhelmingly realizes the Internet with all its positive connectivity also provides another negative source for the powerfully corrupt to skim the system. Fast-paced with a strong cast and a powerful look at Venice and its local government, A Question of belief is a great entry as the hero struggles with what he learns about trust abused for personal gain and as immorality rules. Yet readers know that Diogenes only need to meet him to find an honest person trying to adhere to his values in a system that prefers the lowest ethical denominator.

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2011

    Good mystery

    Another solid Detective Brunetti book. The characters in the series are so real and likeable. I love the way Donna Leon intersects the main characters with family members, friends and of course the bad guys. I have all of the series and can't wait to read the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Great book

    Love this series!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Good light read

    I've enjoyed the series. Light no thinking read. Just entertainment.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    A hot summer in Venice

    Ms. Leon's work is not the in your face thrill-a minute storyline that I am accustomed to reading bit a slow burning smoldering story that builds in intensity as the book progresses. It comes at you like neighborhood gossip caught at wisps and gestures over the garden fence, like returning for a cup of coffee to a an old and trusted friend as little by little the whole story emerges and you tell yourself 'of course why didn't I see it coming.'
    I actually started the book before I left on vacation to England, came back and picked up the book and carried on without missing a beat. The slow moving police officers, hampered by the sweltering summer in Venice, go about their business , while looking for shade or heaven forbid actual air-conditioning while laying out two stories for our enjoyment. Inspector Brunetti aides his fellow officer with concerns he has over a charlatan of a palm reader, tarot waving soothsayer that his mother appears to paying a rather unsightly sum to and then the two of them become embroiled in what appears to be a scam in the making involving a lady judge and her bailiff.
    When the inspector's vacation is interrupted to the point of him having to change trains on the way out of town with his family to return to oversee what is the untimely murder of the afore mentioned bailiff does the storyline suddenly take on overtones of menace. The sudden lull in crime in Venice is over-ridden with blackmail, fraud and charges of indecency and Brunetti's skills are bought to task as he ably puts our fears to rest.
    A most delightful tale told at the pace of the hot summer with enough sizzle to the action to keep one intrigued to the last.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Too Many Minor Details

    Book 19, in Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series

    Ms. Leon is notorious at setting up highly charged atmospheric scenes with a Venetian flair and creating a wonderful cast of characters to go with it. In this latest mystery, we have once again, Commissiario Guido Brunetti dealing with a well-developed bureaucratic system built on stubbornness and corruption.

    The story opens with Brunetti looking forward to a summer of fresh mountain air with his family and catching up on his reading. It is to be a well-earned rest away from the debilitating heat and the hordes of tourists that invade his hometown during the peak season. Before leaving, he agrees to help investigate the suspicious activities Inspector Lorenzo's aging aunt seems to be involved with. Apparently her interest in astrology has attracted the attention of a new found friend and Lorenzo is worried because she has been regularly withdrawing large sums of money from her bank. He suspects she may have fallen prey to a swindler and has been duped by the charms of a notorious "faith healer".

    On another front, things start to move quickly on cases that have been delayed in court. It is suspected that Judge Luisa Coltellini and Araldo Fontana have been sidelining files for the benefit of one of the parties and reaping the rewards for quite some time. Brunetti knows this practice contributes to the lack of efficiency and ethics of the judiciary system, leaving a black mark on all. Before leaving on vacation he sets in motion a quiet investigation by his team.

    His best laid plans and vacation is cut short, when it is learnt that Fontana has been murdered in a violent attack. His quiet investigation explodes and he is brought back in the thick of the action and into the simmering Venetian heat...

    I am a fan of this series; the stories are usually refreshing, captivating and have an underlying message. Although interesting, this latest is not one of Ms. Leon's best, I found the plotting lacked suspense and the pacing rather slow moving. Too many minor details bogged down the storyline and the mystery is overshadowed by long descriptions of the culture, the food and the architecture. In this novel or travelogue it appears Ms. Leon has let her love of Venice override her love for writing exquisite mysteries. Some may enjoy it and some may not......

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