Venice revisited

Having just finished Sarah Dunant's In the Company of the Courtesan, I felt like reading a rather more modern take on Venice, so revisited one of Donna Leon's Brunetti mysteries. Through a Glass Darkly is the fifteenth installment in the Comissario Guido Brunetti Venetian mysteries.

As always Venice is lovingly portrayed by Leon, as is, on this occasion, the lagoon island of Murano, where the glassblowers live and work. Her novels are always well rounded portraits of Venice focusing as much on Brunetti's family, the places he lives and works, and the food he eats, as the central crime story. In this case it's just as well that there's plenty of atmosphere, as the thriller element is distinctly lacking. The plot is confused and somewhat shapeless, and the crime itself doesn't really make much sense, and as for the denouement, well....let's just say that if it had been presented in the same way in, for example, a traditional Agatha Christie, there would have been howls of anguish from the critics.

Don't get me wrong - I did enjoy the book, as a light read to take on holiday with you to Venice, it would be highly recommended, and it was great fun to read a book in a modern Venetian setting straight after a book set in an earlier Venice (also surprisingly instructive as it alerted me to some geographic changes that otherwise would have passed me by). But as a crime novel it was sadly lacking. For readers who want to know why Brunetti is so good, they should look at some of the earlier novels in the series, especially his debut, the wonderful Death At La Fenice.


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