By Its Cover by Donna Leon – Review

Published by Arrow Publishing

Publication date – 12 March 2015

Source – own copy

9780099591283-large

“By Its Cover is the much anticipated twenty-third instalment in Donna Leon’s bestselling crime series, where Commissario Brunetti is better than ever as he addresses questions of worth and value alongside his ever-faithful team of Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra.

When several valuable antiquarian books go missing from a prestigious library in the heart of Venice, Commissario Brunetti is immediately called to the scene. The staff suspect an American researcher has stolen them, but for Brunetti something doesn’t quite add up.

Taking on the case, the Commissario begins to seek information about some of the library’s regulars, such as the ex-priest Franchini, a passionate reader of ancient Christian literature, and Contessa Morosini-Albani, the library’s chief donor, and comes to the conclusion that the thief could not have acted alone.

However, when Franchini is found murdered in his home, the case takes a more sinister turn and soon Brunetti finds himself submerged in the dark secrets of the black market of antiquarian books. Alongside his ever-faithful team of Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra, he delves into the pages of Franchini’s past and into the mind of a book thief in order to uncover the terrible truth.”

3.5 of 5 stars

Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to a library in Venice. Someone has been stealing valuable books. Even worse, pages have been taken from others, leaving the remaining tomes worthless. Brunetti believes that something other than petty theft and vandalism is involved. His investigation takes him into Venice high society and leads him to a former priest who frequents the library. When he is murdered the investigation takes a deeper turn.

I’m a long time Donna Leon fan. Reading her latest book is like going home. I wallow in the comfort of being surrounded by familiar characters, watching them develop over the years. In fact her books for me are as much about these characters as they are about the crime being investigated.

As always Venice is itself an integral character in the book. I could imagine myself wandering the Calles and canals of the ancient city. I am always easily transported by Donna Leon to this beautiful part of Italy and her love for the city shines through the book as it does in all the others in the series.

Also a word of advice. Don’t read this book if you are hungry. The description of the meals eaten  by the Brunetti clan are enough to make your mouth water.

The story itself was interesting. I had worked out what had happened and who was the culprit before the reveal but this did not spoil my enjoyment. There have been other readers who have commented on the abrupt ending. However I find that Donna Leon’s books rarely have that neat finish to them that most crime novels contain. This would normally irritate me as I prefer finality in a novel, or to know that the story is to continue. With Brunetti I know I should not expect such a tying up of loose ends. Indeed there have been stories in the past where Brunetti has been unable to do as he would like due to bureaucracy or other external forces and I suppose this is more true to life.

I am looking forward to reading the 24th book in the Brunetti series, Falling in Love, as soon as I get my hands on a copy.

 

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