It depends what you expect As I close this book there are a handful of reviews here which all have something relevant to say. Among the disappointed are those who complain of slow pace and a plot which is often virtually static. True, but they bought the wrong book. Donna Leon doesn’t aspire to write another Italian Job; she is, as others have observed, interested in moral issues, in personal relationships, in truth and justice and corruption. For example, she can deal perceptively with the fur trade in a couple of paragraphs, leave the reader thoughtful before turning the page. Her novels tend to have texture rather than line, and it is easy to believe that to be true of police work.Devotees may regret that in A Noble Radiance there is less of Venice itself than in the earlier books, but that is compensated by further insights into the character or the Brunetti family. They feel more and more like real people who cook, worry about children, squabble and make up within the context of a family whose lives are touched by the Commissario’s often unpleasant job.Plotwise, the noble Lorenzoni’s push the boundaries of credibility but just about survive. The coincidence of the role played by Brunetti’s brother is crucial and artfully planted early; many a mystery story has relied on the device but it leaves a faint feeling of cheating. And not for the first time, Signorina Ellettra, with her contacts and her computer, proves to be the most capable detective in the Questura. But she is a secretary – and one whose generous disposal of public funds at the florists might one day merit a thought or two from Brunetti himself.A Noble Radiance is a good book which, read with the right expectations, will entertain and provoke.
4.5 Stars – Great characters, great writing, great plot First Sentence: There was nothing much to notice about the field, a hundred-metre square of dry grass below a small village in the foothills of the Dolomites.On the recently purchased property of a doctor near the Italian Dolomites is found the much decomposed body of a young man. Near it is a ring bearing the crest of the Lorenzonis, one of Italy’s most aristocratic families, whose son had been abducted two years ago. Comm. Guido Brunetti reviews the file and decides to unofficially re-investigate the case. The more he learns, the more he questions whether the kidnapping was as it appeared.Leon writes some of my favorite characters. Guido Brunetti has a strong moral and ethical code as well as a need to seek out what is just. He has a strong marriage and a close relationship with his children, although these were relatively absent from this book, and is developing a closer relationship with his wife’s parents. Then there is the remarkable Signorina Elettra, of whom each reader should have the pleasure of discovering on their own. I particularly like that, in this book, we learn more of Guido’s own family and his past. I also appreciate that we see the principal characters grow and develop with each book in the series.The book is so well written and I love her use of language. There is a classicism to it that reflects the characters and the author and makes her books such a pleasure to read.Leon creates a very strong sense of place that takes the reader along with the characters. I’ve not visited Venice, but nearly forget that when I read her books. Her descriptions of food always leave me heading for the kitchen.The plot was very well done. In essence, it is a story of families and the impact they can have upon us. It is also a story of greed; for money, prestige and false respect. I’ve always respected that we see the progress of the investigation as Brunetti does, rather than everything revealed at the end. Within the story are scenes that are touching, suspenseful and tragic.This was a very good book. I am delighted to know I have many more books in the series ahead of me.A NOBLE RADIANCE (Pol Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-No. Italy-Cont) – VG+Leon, Donna – 7th in seriesPenguin Books, 1998, US Paperback – ISBN: 0142003190
Indifferent Very difficult to review this novel. From start to finish, it left me indifferent, but I don’t think that makes it a bad book, or one to be avoided.The pace is modest. There are some good lines. The plot is best not examined too closely. Brunetti, by now in his seventh novel, should really be a fuller, better-defined character but he left me indifferent. All I picked up was that he liked food, his family and possessed a high sense of moral duty.The ensemble cast were notable by their fleeting appearances although, like Brunetti, it is easy to have a soft spot for his secretary Elettra. Mrs Leon’s style is untaxing and undemanding.If you want an introduction to Brunetti and like a good whodunnit I would not start here. The ‘suspect’ list is very short. There are a lot of fans who read more into this author’s work than is merited but that doesn’t make this a bad book. It’s just indifferent.
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