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Other titles in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries series:
Suffer the Little Children (Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries)by Donna Leon
Synopses & Reviews
Donna Leon's charming, evocative, and addictive Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries are widely acclaimed national and international bestsellers, reaching a wider audience in the United States than ever before. Her latest, Suffer the Little Children, is classic Brunetti, a fantastic addition to the series.
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 — had burst into the doctor's apartment while the family was sleeping, attacked him, and taken away his eighteen-month-old boy. What could have motivated an assault by the forces of the state so violent that it has left the doctor mute? Who would have authorized such an alarming operation?
As Brunetti delves into the case, he begins to uncover a story of infertility, desperation, and illegal dealings. At the same time, Brunetti's colleague, Inspector Vianello, discovers a moneymaking scam between pharmacists and doctors in the city. But it appears as if one of the pharmacists is after more than money. What secrets are in the records? And what has been done with them? Donna Leon's new novel is as subtle and fascinating as her best mysteries, set in a beautifully realized Venice, a glorious city seething with small-town vice.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The most obvious appeal of Donna Leon's novels about Commissario Guido Brunetti is that they are so supremely civilized. To start with, they are set in Venice and offer many seductive glimpses of its incomparable art, architecture and — not least — food. Then we have Brunetti himself, the most civilized of policemen. He is an adoring husband and father, a humane and reflective man, and something... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of an intellectual. He is rarely too busy to drop into an art museum ('His favorite was the Bellini Presentation in the Temple, and, as always, he allowed himself to come to it last') or bookstore ('Because he made it a rule never to leave a bookstore without buying something, he settled for a long-out-of-print translation of the Marquis de Custine's 1839 travels in Russia'). Brunetti's admirable wife, Paola, is herself the daughter of a count, a university professor and a great admirer of Henry James — she's reading 'The Ambassadors' for the fourth time — and a cook who will serve up tuna steaks simmered in a sauce of capers, olives and tomatoes, followed by fig ice cream and finally a glass of grappa 'to counteract the effects of a heavy meal.' She will also report that, while wandering near San Basilio one morning, 'I stopped in a pasticceria, a place I've never been in before, and I had a brioche that was made of air and a cappuccino that tasted like heaven.' One wonders how many readers put down these novels and book a flight to Venice. But all is not fig ice cream and brioche in Brunetti's Venice. He is, after all, a cop, and evildoers threaten the civilized lives cherished by him, his family and other honest Venetians. In the Brunetti novels I've read, and there are 16 of them now, evil tends not to be embodied by serial killers or rapists — that sort of violence is not Leon's focus. Rather, her villains are mostly politicians, clergymen, military leaders and police officials who abuse their power. Leon, an American who has lived in Venice for some 25 years, clearly is deeply offended by the corruption that she sees in her adopted home. In this book, the corruption reaches into the medical profession. At the outset, a doctor is accused of having illegally adopted — bought, actually — a child from its mother and then falsified documents to justify the deal. The fact that the doctor dearly loves the child, who is taken away from him and put in an orphanage, wins Brunetti's sympathy. In another plot line, crooked doctors use the Internet to charge the city for treating nonexistent patients. These matters, while interesting, are not exactly urgent, and Brunetti spends as much time searching for the perfect cappuccino as he does investigating the crimes. The author, too, often puts aside this medical malfeasance to develop her characters, to remind us of Venice's many charms and to fulminate against the sins of those who govern Italy. As Brunetti enjoys a glass of pinot grigio, his eyes fall on a newspaper's headlines, 'which blared news of the latest infighting among the various political parties as they attempted to butt one another aside in their frenzy to keep their trotters in the trough.' Perhaps the most loathsome figure Leon introduces is a plumber turned politician who founded 'one of the separatist political parties that had sprung up in the North in recent years, their platform the usual primitive cocktail of fear, rancour, and resentment at the reality of social change in Italy. They disliked foreigners, the Left, and women with equal ferocity, though their contempt in no way lessened their need for all three: the first to work in their factories; the second to blame for the ills of the country; and the third to prove their masculinity by serving in their beds.' Lest Leon's denunciation of Italian politics make us Americans smug, let us note Brunetti's reflection on the police raid that opens the novel: 'The times when the police could break in anywhere without a warrant were not upon them, not yet. After all, this was not the United States.' For readers with a certain mind-set — distaste for violence, love of Italy's cultural and sensual pleasures and scorn for officialdom — Leon's novels are always a pleasure. My only objection to this one concerns something that isn't Leon's fault. Near the end, Brunetti meets with a politician named Marcolini. Abruptly, as they talk, Marcolini is three times referred to as 'Marvilli,' the name of another character who isn't in this scene. Editors are paid to keep this sort of thing from happening. It's an affront to the writer and an annoyance to the reader — it's just damnably uncivilized." Reviewed by Carolyn See, who can be reached at www.carolynsee.comPeniel E. Joseph, who teaches Africana Studies at Stony Brook University and is the author of 'Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America'Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"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." Kirkus Reviews
"Leon's legion of fans...know that the Brunetti series isn't about crime as much as it is about more subtle human failings, and there are plenty of those here..." Booklist
"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..." Library Journal
Donna Leons 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, Brunettis 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.
About the Author
Donna Leon has written four previous Guido Brunetti novels, Death and Judgment, Dressed for Death, Death in a Strange Country, and Death at La Fenice, which won the Suntory Prize for the best suspense novel of 1991. She teaches English at the University of Maryland extension at a U.S. Air Force base near Venice Italy, where she has lived for over twenty years.
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