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Death at La Fenice: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery    by Donna Leon order for
Death at La Fenice
by Donna Leon
Order:  USA  Can
Perennial, 2004 (1992)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Set in Venice, Italy, Death at La Fenice is a must for mystery fans who enjoy a foreign locale. What a mesmerizing place Venice must be. Donna Leon writes of it knowledgeably and with apparent love.

Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to the opera house, La Fenice, to investigate the death of Maestro Helmut Wallnauer a man who was highly respected for his musical abilities but vilified for his personal life. It is rumored he performed for Hitler! Brunetti, well known for his investigative talents, meets with reluctance from his witnesses and must ferret out what amounts to gossip.

Leon writes with a delicacy that is very refreshing in a mystery, but still manages to present a death by cyanide poisoning as though the reader were a part of the scene. The author's philosophy of life ekes unobtrusively into her prose to make one smile or reflect whilst still enjoying a well-crafted book. Her take on teenagers is priceless and right on the button.

Leon has many books to her credit. The fact that this one is ten years old is not a drawback, just something to keep in mind when one tries to put playing for Hitler into the timeline. I have not read any of Leon's other books, but intend to seek them out now.

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