By Its Cover by Donna Leon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Each of Donna Leon’s books is a singular pleasure: a mix of cynicism and good-heartedness; an excursion to the sights, smells, and tastes of Venice; a peek into a happy marriage and family. And of course, because we are beset with crime and bureaucracy, an exercise in both passion and futility.
A theme of her previous book (The Golden Egg) was the power of living language and its gifts, unto possibly defining humanity. A theme of this book is language as history, as artifact, as text. Part of the pleasure of reading Leon is this mix of abstract, intellectual pleasure and the concrete, sensual pleasures of life.
In By Its Cover, Brunetti is called to a library he has not been to since his college days; rare books have been stolen, some defaced (pages cut out & taken) and left in place. It all seems to be the fault of the visiting American scholar, discovered to be a fake. But does the attack on one of the library’s patrons mean there is more going on?
As usual, it’s a leisurely journey to the heart of the mystery, with Brunetti and Paola’s father, the Count, reaching a new accommodation after twenty years; a new relationship appearing for Signorina Elettra; the usual vignettes of home life; and Venice, dear Venice, sinking even faster thanks to the cruise ships.
Recommended for fans. I recommend starting early in the series, for those who haven’t read them, since one of the major pleasures of the series is following the Brunetti family over the passage of time.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the EARC for review!
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