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About Face (Guido Brunetti Series #18)

About Face (Guido Brunetti Series #18)

3.8 19
by Donna Leon

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From the acclaimed author of The Waters of Eternal Youth, the eighteenth enthralling installment of "one of the most exquisite and subtle detective series ever" (The Washington Post)

The Publication of each Commissario Brunetti mystery is an event antici­pated by Donna Leon's many readers. In About Face, she returns with a dazzling


From the acclaimed author of The Waters of Eternal Youth, the eighteenth enthralling installment of "one of the most exquisite and subtle detective series ever" (The Washington Post)

The Publication of each Commissario Brunetti mystery is an event antici­pated by Donna Leon's many readers. In About Face, she returns with a dazzling mystery that puts Brunetti's own family at risk. Soon after meeting Franca Marinello, the wife of a wealthy Venetian businessman, Brunetti comes across her name in his investigation of a trucking company owner found murdered in his offices. Though charmed by Franca's love of Virgil and Cicero, he must now unravel her connection to the Carabinieri's prime suspect. As Brunetti delves into the murder, he comes face to face with violence and corruption as dangerous as he's ever seen. About Face is Donna Leon at her finest.

Editorial Reviews

In the 18th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, vaporous fumes seem to rise everywhere, giving About Face a Dantesque starkness. Brunetti's restless quest for miscreants leads him deep into this netherworld of hazardous waste and dark alliances. Poking through the fetid garbage and the incinerator cities, he uncovers secrets that mobsters and businessmen want to keep hidden at any cost. Assassins in the night and a green theme.
Marilyn Stasio
It would be easy to punch holes in a contrived subplot, thick with symbolism, about a beautiful young woman whose face was ruined by cosmetic surgery. But who would want to, when Leon is being so generous with the humanizing details that make this series special? There are long walks in Brunetti's warm company and lively talks with his clever wife and even more engaging father-in-law, who can see the appetites of a modern consumer society reflected in a 17th-century portrait. As detective work goes, it's a tiny masterpiece of analysis.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In Leon's 18th novel, Commissario Brunetti delves deeply into Venice's (literal and figurative) pollution, navigating the choked canals as he tries to solve the murder of a truck driver. When his father-in-law asks him to look into the background of a potential business partner, Brunetti becomes fascinated with the business partner's wife-a former beauty now ravaged by a ruinous face lift. If the story evolves slowly, David Colacci manages to keep listeners hooked. His deep and direct voice drives the narrative, and his seamless transitions from description to dialogue are particularly impressive given the book's range of accents, genders and vocal styles. Despite the strong projection of his voice, Colacci can still shift his tone with his vocal characters to convey two people talking in confidence. His interpretation of Leon's book proves an excellent example of how a narrator can improve the actual story. An Atlantic Monthly hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 23). (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

With her 18th stellar entry in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, Leon (Suffer the Little Children) continues to live up to the increasingly high standards set by each novel. Her latest brings the Venetian policeman into intertwining cases involving dangerous environmental hazards: mounting trash heaps and air and water pollution. As usual, the urbane, overeducated, laconic detective circumvents his self-indulgent, self-centered boss and other department dullards to solve a thorny murder case. Leon not only offers superb plotting and engaging dialog, but also captures the atmosphere of Venetian daily life. Thus, Brunetti enjoys frequent, leisurely meals with his wife and children. Leon's evocation of these meals is so delectable that readers feel as though they are participating in the repasts. For readers of literary mysteries, such as those by Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George. Highly recommended for all public and university libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/08.]
—Lynne F. Maxwell

Kirkus Reviews
The stench of corruption that always hangs over Venice grows disconcertingly literal when Commissario Guido Brunetti (The Girl of His Dreams, 2008, etc.) gets a case involving the illegal disposal of toxic waste. The morning after he spends a night dining with his wife Paola's titled parents and their guests-including most notably La Super Liftata, Franca Marinello, the much younger wife of a well-connected businessman who's trying to entice Conte Orazio Falier to invest money in China-Brunetti is confronted with what seems like a much homelier state of affairs. Maggiore Filipo Guarino, of the Marghera Carabinieri, is looking into the death of Stefano Ranzato, a reluctant police informant from Tessera who was killed by whoever robbed his trucking company, and wants some local help gathering information about his relationship with an unsavory character in San Marcuola. Guarino, who seems convinced that Ranzato's death was no casual slaughter, is just as mysterious in his own way as Franca Marinello, but apart from that Brunetti sees no connection between a scandal concerning the Mafia's infiltration of the waste-disposal business and a charming ex-model with a fondness for Cicero and the world's most grotesque facelift. It's not until a violent climax at the Casino that the two halves of the plot come together, and then the connection is more convincing in metaphorical than literal terms. On the plus side, there are the usual sharp scenes of Brunetti at work and at home, and a surprisingly warm relationship develops between Brunetti and his hitherto remote father-in-law. Author tour to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, Seattle. Agent:Diogenes Verlag

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Guido Brunetti Series , #18
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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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About Face (Guido Brunetti Series #18) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Lynnfieldwoods More than 1 year ago
The more books in the Guido Brunetti series that I read, the more I appreciate the craftsmenship that Donna Leon brings to each book. And 'About Face' shows that she is still on top of her game. You never get the feeling that she is tired with writing about Guido, Paola and the rest of her recurring characters. This book I especially enjoyed in that another layer in the psyche of Commissario Brunetti is revealed and shows him to be a flawed, but equally sympathetic character. He knows that he could never leave his wife Paola because she understands him as well as anyone can, sometimes even better than himself but he is intrigued with the woman with 'the face'. For those who have already been captured by the Brunetti series, this should be another welcome addition to your library and to those who have never read Donna Leon, you are in for a pleasant experience. Enjoy.
harstan More than 1 year ago
All over Italy, it seems everyone struggles with what to do about waste, which to the average citizen and the tourist seems like nothing as the senses are overwhelmed with the smell and sight. Although it seems otherwise, a lot is going on to dispose of waste; some being illegal and proving deadly. Marghera Carabinieri agent Maggiore Filipo Guarino is investigating the murder of police informant Stefano Ranzato. The trucking company driver-owner was killed during a robbery that most likely is a cover to eliminate a government stooge, who was providing information on illegal toxic waste removal. Needing local Venetian help, Maggiore asks Commissario Guido Brunetti to assist on the inquiry that seems to imply a Mafiaosa takeover of waste disposal. At the same time Conte Orazio Falier, the father of Guido's wife Paola, asks him to investigate Maurizio Cataldo, who solicits capitol to invest in China; and whose second wife former model Franca Marinello suffers from a failed cosmetic facial surgery. The two story lines that make up this solid Brunetti Italian police procedural sort of come together in a final confrontation, but the heart of the tale is the insightful look at the relationships of the hero especially with his cherished wife and children, the change with his aristocratic in-laws, and the respect from the cops who work for him. The underlying theme is that humans are turning the third planet from the sun into a toxic dump that needs action now. Fans will enjoy Donna Leon's cautionary environmental whodunit that focuses on the garbage wars. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't think there's anyone better at writing a good mystery with the added ingredient of humor. Donna Leon is a master. For those who love Venice, all of her books are a "must read". I hope she keeps them coming!!
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Leonard Scott More than 1 year ago
This book is a richly layered view of venice, of.the struggles of A moral man trying to. Do.his job despite a corrupt govermemt. It is a.murder.mystery that must be solved in an enviromemtally contamimated.world. this should not be.read by those new to BRunitti. Start else.where.and save this one to savor..later,
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AuntyPatty More than 1 year ago
Just when I thought I would have to stop reading my kind of mysteries because of having "read them all" since age 16, along comes a review of Donna Leon work earlier from B&N and so I step outside my comfort zone and select a book to "try" and BANG - she's now added to my reading repitoire!! Donna Leon writes of Venice, Italy in a real life way, not just from having looked at a map and tour guide book as some authors do, it seems. Her descriptions of exotic places and intriguing personalities fulfill your wishes of what you'd hoped to read, with details that persuade you to enter in to the mystery. Her writing is "real" aka she is a real writing author, not just someone who pumps out simple "who done its". Her plots are of mature nature, well thought out and skillfully written. She's a keeper as far as I'm concerned, plus she is still alive and writing and that's always good to have more reading to look forward to. : )
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The real attraction of these books is the character Guido Brunetti, and his relationships with his colleagues at work and his family at home. If you enjoy that world, then you will also enjoy this novel. The plot is not as perfect as other Leon plots have been, but it's fine.
pjpick More than 1 year ago
My first of the Guido Brunetti series and may be my last. This was a choice for my face to face book club and we all panned it. Personally, I couldn't get past Chapter 4 and I was stuck on a plane for 6 hours with nothing else to read except Sky Mall (4 times). Of my friends who finished it, they said the ending or reason for the murder did not make sense so I am very puzzled by the glowing reviews. Still, another friend has read to "skip #18 in the Guido Brunetti books" if you love them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im 10 can i read it