Death at La Fenice

By Donna Leon

In the first of a series of mysteries set in the enchanting city of Venice, a famous conductor has been murdered at the opera, between acts of “La Traviata.” We are introduced to the unassuming, yet brilliant Commissario Guido Brunetti and follow along as he unravels this mystery.

As with most detective stories that I love, the plot, though interesting and important, is secondary to the characters. Leon has created an endearing protagonist in Brunetti. As he goes about the business of solving the murder, we watch him interact with his colleagues, his highly non-functional boss, his literate wife Paola and his two teen-agers. He loves his family and has a very stable home life. I think it is this which allows him to function so well in a job which exposes him to the very worst of society while he strives to find the truth. He is sensible and hard-working, and has great compassion as well as a sense of humour. He is calm, and seems content with his lot. There is none of the angst so apparent in many detectives, and the violence of the crime is minimized. The result is a relaxed, engaging story, set in a most beautiful city, and when it is finished, we are ready for another episode.

I’m looking forward to making my way through the rest of the series, with my new love and guide, Guido Brunetti.


  1. This is a terrific series. Thanks for reminding me to try to get caught up with it.

  2. Yes, isn't Guido wonderful! And I love the setting. Plan to read every single one of them.