her first stand-alone
boasts the same sensitivity to human behavior that distinguishes her Guido Brunetti series.”Bill Ott, Booklist
“A veteran mystery maven weaves present-day Venice into a 300-year-old puzzle in this engaging stand-alone.
[The Jewels of Paradise] packs the charms of Venice into a smart whodunit.”Kirkus Reviews
“While it is undeniable strange to be wandering through Venice without the protection of Brunetti’s solid presence, the young heroine of this novel is so winning that readers should find themselves forgiving the Commissario his absence.
The Jewels of Paradise is as much a tale about a young woman wising up and learning to fight more effectively for her own happiness as it is a mysterythough the centuries-old secrets that those chests contain are also pretty compelling. Commissario Brunetti is allowed to take a vacation once in a while, but only if his replacements are as wry and erudite as Caterina.”Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
“The Jewels of Paradise... shares some features of the Brunetti mysteriesVenice’s mash-up of high and low culture, corrupt businessmen and Italian-style family squabbles. It also shares Leon’s elegant prose, with humorous, wonderfully detailed descriptions as seen through the eyes of her heroine.”Jennifer Melick, Opera News
…Leon's first stand-alone mystery, and, while it is undeniably strange to be wandering through Venice without the protection of Brunetti's solid presence, the young heroine of this novel is so winning that readers should find themselves forgiving the commissario his absence…The Jewels of Paradise is as much a tale about a young woman wising up and learning to fight more effectively for her own happiness as it is a mystery…Commissario Brunetti is allowed to take a vacation once in a while, but only if his replacements are as wry and erudite as Caterina.
Taking something of a gondolier’s holiday from her popular Commissario Guido Brunetti procedurals (Beastly Things, etc.), bestseller Leon debuts a stand-alone. Opera expert Caterina Pellegrini, who’s been teaching in Manchester, England, returns home to Venice to accept an unorthodox assignment: researching the contents of recently discovered trunks believed to have belonged to a once renowned baroque composer, Agostino Steffani, who was also a bishop and a diplomat, so that his avaricious descendants can divide the estate. A more compelling mystery for the musicologist, however, concerns what lessons Steffani’s life might offer as she wrestles with her own future. Despite the intriguing setup, Leon uncharacteristically fails to mine the premise for maximal emotion. There’s too much obscure historical detail relative to the development of Steffani’s character, lesser figures change arbitrarily to suit the plot’s convenience, and finally, out of the blue, there’s a slapdash deus ex machina ending. Consider this one a paradise lost. Agent: Diogenes Verlag AG. (Oct.)
No, not another of Leon's engaging mysteries starring Commissario Guido Brunetti but a stand-alone novel—though it's still set in Venice. Baroque opera expert Caterina Pellegrini has returned home to oversee the opening of two just-discovered trunks containing the effects (and maybe a fortune?) of a baroque composer who once reigned supreme. Lovely to see Leon spread her wings, and she writes persuasively about music; a related CD recorded by a world-famous singer is in the works.
A veteran mystery maven weaves present-day Venice into a 300-year-old puzzle in this engaging stand-alone. Caterina Pellegrini has much in common with author Leon (Beastly Things, 2012, etc.). Like Leon, Caterina is a scholar as well as a fan of Baroque opera. Unlike her creator, Caterina is a native-born Venetian who returns to her beloved city for an unusual temp job. Eager to get back to La Serenissima, she has accepted a commission from two venal cousins and their suave lawyer to examine the contents of two locked trunks. The trunks are believed to contain the papers of a long-dead composer. And while the cousins are hoping for rumored riches, "Jewels of Paradise," Caterina suspects that she will find the answers to a bigger mystery: whether the composer was involved in the 1694 disappearance of a German count. Along the way, she discovers the hidden story of the composer's tragic life and, perhaps, puts her own back on track. As in Leon's immensely popular Guido Brunetti series, mysteries featuring a Venetian police detective, the appeal of this book is as much in the setting as in the plot. When Caterina stops for a snack at the "ridiculously small bar that used to serve tiny pizzas topped with a single anchovy," we stop with her, and enjoy a Venetian "spritz" as well. And while this new amateur sleuth lacks Brunetti's warm family, she has her share of witty friends, such as the drunken Romanian who wonders how Fra Angelico's angels managed to don their robes over their wings. ("Velcro," she tells him.) While the plot can get a bit academic at times--mixing Catholic Church politics with music and legal terms--Leon knows when to draw back and enjoy a glass of wine. While lacking some of the warmth of the Brunetti series, Leon's stand-alone still packs the charms of Venice into a smart whodunit.