Suffer the Little Children (Guido Brunetti Series #16)
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Suffer the Little Children (Guido Brunetti Series #16)

3.9 11
by Donna Leon

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Donna Leon’s charming, evocative, and addictive Commissario Guido Brunetti series continues with Suffer the Little Children. When Commissario Brunetti is summoned in the middle of the night to the hospital bed of a senior pediatrician, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men -- a young Carabiniere captain and two privates from out


Donna Leon’s charming, evocative, and addictive Commissario Guido Brunetti series continues with Suffer the Little Children. When Commissario Brunetti is summoned in the middle of the night to the hospital bed of a senior pediatrician, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men -- a young Carabiniere captain and two privates from out of town -- have burst into the doctor's apartment in the middle of the night, attacked him and taken away his eighteenth-month old baby boy. What could have motivated an assault by the forces of the state so violent it has left the doctor mute? Who would have authorized such an alarming operation? At the same time, Brunetti’s colleague Inspector Vianello discovers a money-making scam between pharmacists and doctors in the city. But it appears as if one of the pharmacists is after more than money. Donna Leon's new novel is as subtle and fascinating as ever, set in a beautifully-realized Venice, a glorious city seething with small-town vice.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Donna Leon is the ideal author for people who vaguely long for “a good mystery,” meaning a strong story with discreet violence, a wise detective who doesn’t drink or brood too much, and a setting that’s worth the visit. That Leon is also a brilliant writer should only add to the consistently comforting appeal of her Venetian procedurals featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, an immensely likable police detective who takes every murder to heart.
— The New York Times
San Francisco Chronicle
Suffer the Little Children . . . is terrific at providing, through its weary but engaging protagonist, a strong sense of the moral quandaries inherent in Italian society and culture.
Baltimore Sun
Donna Leon is the undisputed crime fiction queen. . . . [Her] ability to capture the city's social scene and internal politics is first-rate, as always, but this installment carries extra gravity and welcome plot twists that make it one of the series' better efforts.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Leon's sixteenth Commissario Brunetti mystery is brilliant; she has never become perfunctory, never failed to give us vivid portraits of people and of Venice, never lost her fine, disillusioned indignation.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In Leon's 16th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, at once astringent yet lyrical, two rival police forces—Brunetti and his Venetian colleagues and the carabinieri—are both interested in a doctor who illegally adopts an Albanian infant. When three carabinieri break into the doctor's apartment and seize the child at night, they injure the doctor, leaving him mute. Much of the early action takes place in a hospital, and because Venetian hospitals appear only slightly less bureaucratic and Kafkaesque than their stateside counterparts, Leon's marvelous insights into Italian life, so sharp when she explores a military academy in Uniform Justice or glassblowers in Through a Glass, Darkly, aren't as fresh, sinister or compelling here. But once the IVs and bandages give way to vandalism at a pharmacy and the family secrets of a neo-Fascist plumbing tycoon, Leon regains her stride and the novel's last fifth is first-rate and masterful. Leon seldom delivers a "feel good" ending, choosing instead conclusions that are wise and inevitable while still being unsettling. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Commissario Guido Brunetti of Venice does what it takes to solve a case, whether it's having his aristocratic father-in-law arrange a meeting with a powerful political figure or playing the part of a wealthy infertile man who'll do anything to get a baby. After the Carabinieri (Italy's military police) rouse a prominent pediatrician in the middle of the night for illegally adopting his beloved 18-month-old son, Brunetti investigates related adoptions (in which an Italian man swears, falsely, that he fathered a child by a foreign woman) plus a scam in which pharmacists and doctors bill for bogus appointments. The two cases become entwined after the shop of an "exquisitely moral" pharmacist is vandalized. In her 16th book featuring Brunetti, CWA Silver Dagger Award winner Leon vividly illustrates the power of fatherhood, captures the nuances of Venetian politics, and provides a finish as satisfying as it is tragic. But what lifts this series far above the norm is the humanity of Brunetti and his family and the charm of Venice, where Leon has lived for 25 years. Brunetti and his wife, Paola, separately take delight in the wonders of their city; little wonder that their readers will, too.
—Michele Leber
Kirkus Reviews
A baby-snatching leads Commissario Guido Brunetti not to the usual institutional corruption (Through a Glass Darkly, 2006, etc.) but to a more intimate kind of evil. Hours after his adopted son Alfredo calls Dottore Gustavo Pedrolli "papa" for the first time, the doctor and his wife, plumbing heiress Bianca Marcolini, are asleep in their Venice apartment. Five armed men break in, repel Pedrolli's feeble resistance and grab Alfredo. The abductors, amazingly, are carabinieri dispatched by an unknown complainant to end what was apparently an illegal adoption. But why did Captain Marvilli and his masked troops storm so violently into the apartment in the dead of night? After all, as Brunetti reflects, "this was not the United States." And why, given her fury over a brain-threatening injury to her husband, does Signora Marcolini seem so incurious about what's become of her son? These riddles lead Brunetti on a trip to a fertility clinic, where he and his boss's secretary, enterprising Elettra Zorzi, pretend to be a desperate, childless couple, as well as to a round of pharmacists, one of whom treats confidential medical information as a divine sword, and eventually to the unknown tipster, whose motive for betraying the adoptive parents is truly nauseating. Not a single murder, but the story would be strong enough without one even without a climactic assault whose only casualty is the characters' moral certitudes.

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Guido Brunetti Series, #16
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.91(d)

Meet the Author

A New Yorker of Irish/Spanish descent, Donna Leon first went to Italy in 1965, returning regularly over the next decade or so while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, China and finally Saudi Arabia. It was after a period in Saudi Arabia, which she found ‘damaging physically and spiritually’ that Donna decided to move to Venice, where she has now lived for over twenty years.

Her debut as a crime fiction writer began as a joke: talking in a dressing room in Venice’s opera-house La Fenice after a performance, Donna and a singer friend were vilifying a particular German conductor. From the thought ‘why don’t we kill him?’ and discussion of when, where and how, the idea for Death at La Fenice took shape, and was completed over the next four months.

Donna Leon is the crime reviewer for the London Sunday Times and is an opera expert. She has written the libretto for a comic opera, entitled Dona Gallina. Set in a chicken coop, and making use of existing baroque music, Donna Gallina was premiered in Innsbruck. Brigitte Fassbaender, one of the great mezzo-sopranos of our time, and now head of the Landestheater in Innsbruck, agreed to come out of retirement both to direct the opera and to play the part of the witch Azuneris (whose name combines the names of the two great Verdi villainesses Azucena and Amneris).

Brief Biography

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

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Suffer the Little Children 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 11 reviews.
CJ1953 More than 1 year ago
As someone who married into an Italian family, I love the references to Italian politics, Italian food, and Venetian life. I've been to Venice (as, OH NO, a tourist!) and can relate to the challenges that the natives face. This series is different from most police/crime fiction in that the perpetrators can't always be brought to justice. While Brunetti usually manages to figure out what happened it is not always possible, or even desirable, to put the bad guy away. Quick engaging reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these mysteries. I love the feeling of Venice and the main character, Brunetti, strong byt sensitive to others and the bigger world. I always learn a lot while having a good time. This one was as good as most in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got hooked on Donna Leon and Detective Brunetti from the very first book. If you enjoy mysteries then this is the series for you.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think its the funnyiest book in the world.i think it because it was with a bad doll that was a girl pulling a trick on the Nancy drew clue crew. But it wasnt realy interesting when the doll trys to kill them with a big fat chainsaw that was shapened by the dolls teeth. The doll was scary and freaky looking but it was kind of cutie when says will you get me some milk mommy at the begining.