Suffer the Little Children (Guido Brunetti Series #16)

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Overview

A riveting new mystery from international bestseller Donna Leon

Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series has made Venice-a city that's beautiful and sophisticated, but also secretive and corrupt-one of mystery fans? most beloved locales. In this brilliant new book, Brunetti is summoned to the hospital bed of a respected pediatrician, where he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men had burst into the doctor's apartment, attacked him, and kidnapped his ...

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2007 Hard cover First edition. First American Edition / First Printing New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 264 p. Commissario Guido ... Brunetti Mysteries. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Suffer the Little Children (Guido Brunetti Series #16)

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Overview

A riveting new mystery from international bestseller Donna Leon

Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series has made Venice-a city that's beautiful and sophisticated, but also secretive and corrupt-one of mystery fans? most beloved locales. In this brilliant new book, Brunetti is summoned to the hospital bed of a respected pediatrician, where he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men had burst into the doctor's apartment, attacked him, and kidnapped his eighteen-month-old son. What could have motivated an assault so violent that it has left the doctor mute? And could this crime be related to the moneymaking scam run by pharmacists that Brunetti's colleague has recently uncovered? As Brunetti delves deeper into the case, a story of infertility, desperation, and illegal dealings begins to unfold.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871139603
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Series: Guido Brunetti Series , #16
  • Pages: 272
  • 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).

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 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 25, 2013

    The perpetrators can't always be brought to justice...

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Nancy drew clue crew book 1)

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    four stars, highly recommended

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2011

    Donna Leon at her best

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted October 3, 2010

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    Posted January 15, 2010

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    Posted September 7, 2011

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    Posted March 25, 2010

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    Posted December 6, 2009

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