Saturday, March 18, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon

Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon
Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has posted a mystery book review for Through a Glass Darkly, the latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery by Donna Leon. Published by Atlantic Monthly Press, this hardcover mystery has a scheduled publication date of April 28, 2006.

Synopsis (from the publisher): On a luminous spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant Vianello play hooky from the Questura in order to help Vianello’s friend Marco Ribetti, arrested during an environmental protest. They secure his release, only to be faced by the fury of the man’s father-in-law, Giovanni De Cal, a cantankerous glass factory owner who has been heard in the bars of Murano making violent threats about Ribetti.

Brunetti’s curiosity is piqued, and he finds himself drawn to Murano to investigate. Is De Cal the type of man to carry out his threats? By all accounts he is constantly angry, bullying suppliers and fuming against environmentalists. Then one morning the body of De Cal’s bookish night watchman is found in front of the blazing furnace. Could the old man have killed him?

Over long lunches, on secret boat rides, in quiet bars, and down crowded narrow streets, as the weather heats up and the flowers come into bloom, Brunetti searches for the killer. The dead man’s annotated copy of Dante’s Inferno, found at the scene of the crime, may contain the clues Brunetti needs to solve the murder as well as uncover who is ruining the waters of Venice’s lagoon. Will he unravel the poetic clues before the night watchman’s death is allowed to be forgotten?

Review: Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti mysteries are like finely cut gemstones. The storylines are multi-faceted, each side amplifying another, to produce a brilliance that is rare in detective fiction today. Through a Glass Darkly is the 15th mystery to feature Venice Commissioner of Police Guido Brunetti, and is a fine example of her body of work.

In Through a Glass Darkly, Brunetti must navigate more than just the canals of Venice to solve a series of puzzling mysteries: Was the night watchman's death accidental or murder? Was the dead man really concerned about the environment or simply trying to assuage his guilt over his daughter's illness? Are the Murano glass factory owners rivals looking for a competitive edge, or allies for some greater cause? Within this mystery, Leon also carefully and thoughtfully presents both sides to an environmental situation facing most metropolitan areas: What compromises are required to retain a local industry while safeguarding the health of the community?

The ending of the book also deserves mention. Whereas most authors would have felt compelled to continue writing, Leon wisely ends the book, letting the reader's imagination complete the story.

A new Commissario Brunetti mystery is always something to look forward to, and Through a Glass Darkly doesn't disappoint.

Special thanks to Atlantic Monthly Press for providing the ARC of Through a Glass Darkly for this review.

Read more mystery book reviews at Mysterious Reviews.

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