Read Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon Online


There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut WelThere is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice.But as the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture slowly begins to take shape -- a detailed portrait of revenge painted with vivid strokes of hatred and shocking depravity. And the dilemma for Guido Brunetti will not be finding a murder suspect, but rather narrowing the choices down to one ......

Title : Death at La Fenice
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 13626068
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 222 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Death at La Fenice Reviews

  • Alex is The Romance Fox
    2019-03-12 09:01

    Death at La Fenice is the 1st book in the exciting Guido Brunetti Series by Donna Leon, set in the beautiful, romantic, mysterious and unique city of Venice.The series features Commissario Guido Brunetti, family man, modest, moral, loyal and philosophical detective extraordinaire.When famed conductor Helmut Wellauer is found dead in his dressing room between Acts 2 and 3 of the of LA TRAVIATA at the La Fenicia theatre, Brunetti is assigned to investigate the murder by cyanide poisoning. He immediately realizes that there’s a lot more about the victim than what he’s being told by the suspects …….his much younger wife and soprano, Flavia Petrelli and her lesbian lover, Brett Lynch and the people in his life who have been offended by his homophobic views. Brunetti also discovers Wellauer’s past as a Nazi sympathizer.Narrated from Commissario Brunetti’s POV, we accompany him on his investigation and we experience his thoughts and musings as he works through the clues. He’s forced to make choices between what the law is and what he believes is right. And that’s where we see the side of Brunetti that makes him such a moral person.I enjoyed the segments with Brunetti’s family. There’s such love and warmth in their home. And I loved Paola, his wife. If you enjoy a well-crafted and well-written story with beautiful settings and unforgettable characters, then this is the series for you.I loved this segment in the book…………..“Where does American money come from? Steel. Railways. You know how it is over there. It doesn’t matter if you murder or rob to get it. The trick is in keeping it for a hundred years, and then you’re aristocrats.’ ‘Is that so different from here?’ Brunetti asked. ‘Of course,’ Padovani explained, smiling. ‘Here we have to keep it five hundred years before we’re aristocrats. And there’s another difference. In Italy, you have to be well-dressed. In America, it’s difficult to tell which are the millionaires and which are the servants.”

  • Tea Jovanović
    2019-03-10 04:39

    Nažalost, naša publika nije dobro prihvatila ovu autorku i njen serijal knjiga pa je izdavač odustao od daljeg objavljivanja... Šteta... Donu Leon sam imala prilike da upoznam na jednom sajmu i da RTS-u obezbedim kratko "časkanje" s njom... I naravno, ne gubim nadu da će je neko opet objavljivati u Srbiji... Da ne poverujete, krimići, ubistva, i prelepa Venecija i publika to ne prihvata :)

  • Morgan
    2019-03-15 01:05

    Let me start by saying that I love Venice and all things Venetian. I love reading anything that has to do with Venice. So the fact that this book takes place in Venice gave it at least one redeeming quality. I've heard from more than one person that Donna Leon was a good author, but after reading this book, I have serious doubts about that and I'm not sure she deserves a second chance. She set up a great plot and had intruiging characters, but then did nothing with them. I got halfway through the book when the detective expresses his frustration at feeling as though he knew nothing more about what had happened, and I felt exactly the same way as the reader. I felt bored. Reading a mystery. I'm not sure that should ever happen. I also wonder if the woman has an editor. There were pages upon pages that I would have cut, things that did nothing for the story, nothing for the plot, nothing for the character development. And I suspected all along who dunnit. But it did take place, as Guido says, "in the most beautiful city in the world," and since Leon lived there, the description is quite accurate and sent me down a fun memory lane.

  • Sue
    2019-02-25 03:44

    Well, I've now entered the world of Commissario Guido Brunetti, of the police force of Venice. This is the first of Donna Leon's long-running series set in that fabled city, which is equally a character in the novel. This was an enjoyable beginning with a nice introduction to Brunetti's family, his investigation techniques, many fellow officers, and assorted Venetians of all stripes. His travels around the city give an interesting and occasionally claustrophobic feeling to the place.I enjoyed the process of working through the crime and clues, learning about the characters. I like the way Leon developed the plot and her primary character and look forward to reading many more in this series.

  • Negin
    2019-03-19 06:51

    I chose this book, the first in the Commissario Brunetti mystery series, because the setting is Venice, and my family and I will be briefly visiting there soon. Donna Leon does a wonderful job describing the city. If you’re looking for the type of mystery that you can’t put down, this isn’t it. Except for the ending, when it all comes together, this book is more about characters and the setting. A famous, but not particularly likeable conductor is found dead in his dressing room at the La Fenice theatre (Teatro La Fenice), an opera house in Venice. Brunetti is assigned to investigate the murder. I like him, as well as the fact that he adores his wife. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to continuing with more in this series. Some of my favorite quotes:“He left his office and walked slowly up towards Piazza San Marco. Along the way, he paused to look into shop windows, shocked, as he always was when in the centre of the city, by how quickly their composition was changing. It seemed to him that all the shops that served the native population – pharmacies, shoemakers, groceries – were slowly and inexorably disappearing, replaced by slick boutiques and souvenir shops that catered to the tourists, filled with luminescent plastic gondolas from Taiwan and papier-mâché masks from Hong Kong. It was the desires of the transients, not the needs of the residents, that the city’s merchants answered. He wondered how long it would take before the entire city became a sort of living museum, a place fit only for visiting and not for inhabiting.”“Why was it that, when children loved you, you knew everything, and when they were angry with you, you knew nothing?”

  • Giacomo
    2019-02-22 07:00

    I have read @ ten of Donna Leon's books and this review reflects my opinion of most of them. Some have a slightly better story, a little more engaging than others, but for the most part, the books are about Brunetti, and about Venezia, and the Italian people.Commissario Guido Brunetti is a deep and interesting character, but he is unlike most detectives you’ll find in American mystery books. Brunetti solves crimes with his wits, and all the while deals with crooked politicians; his independent and wonderful wife; and his 2 children, who come complete with the normal teenage problems. Throughout the books, though, Brunetti never loses sight of what is important—food. Leon’s books are as much a culinary delight as a mystery lover’s passion. As I read, I find myself yearning to pop the cork on a bottle of Prosecco and mix up a plate of farfalle with a creamy wild mushroom sauce. Some have argued that the mystery in Leon’s books isn’t that captivating. I won’t disagree with that, but the characterization and the setting are so wonderful it makes up for it. Signorina Elettra is one of the best characters I’ve come across in books. She adds more flavor to Leon’s books than a sprig of freshly picked lemon basil to a bowl of pasta.What seals it for me, though, are Leon’s descriptions of Venice, or Venezia. What she describes is so real you will feel as if you’re strolling in Piazza San Marco, or enjoying a brioche at a cafe near the Hotel Danieli. She brings a fresh perspective to plots that have been done before, and her insight into the Italian people is so perfect, all I can do is laugh…and enjoy. If you haven’t read Leon before, and if you’re fond of Italy or the Italian people, rush out and get one of her books. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-22 00:51

    I read this because it's set in Venice, a city I've only been to on a dull rainy day in winter, but one I enjoyed visiting very much. The damp only served to heighten the atmosphere and the lack of tourists gave us room to move and explore. The novel does have some nice descriptions of Venice and the Venetians but otherwise I found the writing a bit stilted and the story somewhat predictable. Comissario Guido Brunetti is the detective in charge of investigating the death of a famous German conductor half way through a performance of La Traviata. He is an interesting character and consummate Italian who seems to be able to run the investigation his own way despite an overbearing boss and has a good feel for when people are telling him all they know or not. The murdered conductor turns out to be a not very likeable man and I had trouble investing any energy into caring who was responsible for his death. This is the first book in a popular series so it will be interesting to see if the series improves.

  • Annina
    2019-03-11 02:06

    Mein erstes Buch von Donna Leon. Nachdem es schon jahrelang auf meiner to-read Liste stand habe ich es endlich gelesen. Brunetti ist mir super sympathisch. Irgendwie mag ich diese Art von Krimi einfach sehr. Tolle Lektüre.

  • Tony
    2019-03-02 08:04

    Leon, Donna. DEATH AT LA FENICE. (1992). ****. This was the author’s first in her series of cases featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti and the city of Venice – so much for my reading the books in order. The mysteries, so far, seem to be low key psychological investigations into various crimes, concentrating on the people behind the crimes rather than on the crimes themselves. In this respect, Ms. Leon ha modeled herself after the novels of George Simenon and his police commissioner Maigret. As with Maigret, Brunetti finds that most crimes, including murder, are based on events that have occurred in the past and usually involve either money or love (or lust). In this adventure, a world famous conductor is found dead in his dressing room at the Fenice opera house in Venice. He was discovered between acts two and three of La Traviata – dead from cyanide poisoning. The immediate problem that Brunetti encounters is that there are too many potential suspects that might have had reason to spike the maestro’s tea with cyanide, from his current wife to his past ones. The conductor’s manic hatred of homosexuals also raises its head as a potential source of suspects. He had a crusader’s goal in punishing as many of them as possible, including wrecking their careers in music when he had the chance. Since the world of music is home to many gay men and women, the list of possible perps increases significantly – especially when you find out how many of them have had negative encounters with the conductor. Complicating all of this is the fact that he is of German extraction and had ties to the Nazi regime during the war. Brunetti is at first overwhelmed with all of the potential candidates, but soon realizes that he will only find out the facts of the current deed by exploring the history of the conductor himself. It finally works itself out in the end, with Brunetti getting to the bottom of the case. The real reason will come as somewhat of a surprise to the reader, but it all makes sense. Recommended.

  • Susan in Perthshire
    2019-03-11 05:01

    Oh I do so love visiting a foreign city and reading this book was as good as wandering around Venice for real. A great character in Commisario Brunetti who comes alive in front of one’s eyes. Great plotting and beautiful descriptions which evoke the reality of Venice. I have not read Brunettin order so starting at the beginning is a bit strange but it feels rather good. I look forward to catching up on the other ones I have missed!

  • Madeline
    2019-03-02 01:39

    Before I get to the review part, can I ask a question of my Goodreads friends? I know some of you probably speak Italian, so can someone please tell me how to properly pronounce "Fenice"? With my years of French I automatically go with "Fe-nees", but I suspect the correct pronunciation might be "Fen-nee-che". Whenever I have to say the title out loud I'm never sure if I'm saying it right and always end up waffling between the two options. So it'd be nice if someone could tell me how to say it right. Okay, anyway. The story opens at the beginning of the third act of Traviata at the famous Fenice opera in Venice. The conductor, a man named Wellauer, has been found dead of cyanide poisoning in his dressing room. There are plenty of what we'll call The Usual Suspects (I watched Casablanca last night) - a much younger wife, a passionate soprano, a betrayed performer, and plenty of journalists and musicians who know way too many of the conductor's dirty secrets. Enter police commissioner Brunetti, who has to figure out which of these people had the best reason to want the conductor dead. To do this, he has to dig into Wellauer's past and try to figure out what kind of man he was. This takes many chapters, and lots of interviews over the phone and in restaurants with a variety of people who worked with the conductor over the years. The pace moves slowly, and there are very few major plot-twisting revelations until the very end, where everything suddenly speeds up and I kept expecting Brunetti to put on his sunglasses and tell someone that This Shit Just Got Real. The story is good, the writing is good, the setting is fantastic, and the mystery is fascinating - it's because of the pace that this book gets four stars instead of five. Maybe it's because I'm used to Agatha Christie, where we get a new startling revelation or clue every couple of chapters, but for some reason this story just dragged a little too much for my taste. For instance, in a scene that's depressingly reminiscent of the infamous Vampire Baseball Scene in Twilight, an entire chapter of Death at La Fenice is devoted to Brunetti playing Monopoly with his family. Sweet, but I wanted the story to focus on, ya know, the murder.

  • Jonetta
    2019-03-09 06:44

    Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to Venice's La Fenice, the city's premiere opera house, when the infamous maestro Helmut Wallhauer is found dead in his dressing room after intermission. Brunetti must quickly solve this case as the victim's high profile creates added pressure on city officials to provide answers. Brunetti is introduced in this first book of the series and he is an interesting study. His investigation style probably conforms with that of his city's culture, more of a laid back, meandering approach to getting answers without a clearly defined plan. After having read so many murder and mayhem books of late, I found Guido Brunetti to be refreshing once I settled back, relaxed and convinced myself that there weren't going to be any serial killers here (for now). Brunetti's family is also quite interesting in their normalcy as well as with their individuality. His way of handling the incompetents around him was also an interesting study. Brunetti isn't perfect and that was evident in this story. I learned just enough about him to want more. The realm of suspects wasn't that large so it allowed me to delve into those characters as Brunetti uncovered information. It was more of a challenge keeping up with those who provided the flavor. Overall, I found the combination of an interesting character, the Italian setting and culture and a puzzling death made for a very pleasant reading experience. I will definitely be continuing this series.

  • Kwoomac
    2019-03-08 01:01

    I quite enjoyed this little mystery. It's the first in a series taking place in and around Venice. The protagonist is an affable police commissioner who manages to run his investigations his own way, in spite of a blustery clueless boss, all the time adhering to the societal, often archaic, rules and norms of Venice. Some pluses for me - First of all it takes place in Italy, a place I love. There's lots of talk about food and wine, two of my favorite things. I love how everyone here has a glass (or two) of wine with lunch and then back to work! Next, Commissario Guido Brunetti is happily married with two normal kids. It was a pleasant respite from the trope of damaged, possibly alcoholic, cop with a unhealthy or nonexistent personal life. One complaint is that the story line felt a little dated to me. Someone was threatened with blackmail because of her sexual orientation. I suppose Italy, a very Catholic country, could be in a different place regarding this (non)issue. While I've never been to Venice, I easily got caught up in the descriptions of people, buildings, the opera, canals, the small-town feel of a world-renowned city. And did I mention the food and wine? I'm sure I'll read more of these stories.

  • Book Concierge
    2019-03-03 07:53

    Commissario Guido Brunetti makes his debut in this wonderful mystery set in Venice. World-renowned Maestro Helmut Wellauer is taken suddenly ill after the second act of La Traviata – or so management would have the audience believe. But it’s clear to the doctor who volunteers her assistance that the Maestro is beyond help. In fact, he’s quite dead when she arrives at his dressing room. It quickly becomes clear to Brunetti that there are several possible suspects, and that the victim, while a musical genius, had a very dark history. I was quickly caught up in the plot, and was kept guessing to the end. I also enjoyed the depth of character, and especially the relationship between Brunetti and his lovely wife Paola. This has been on my TBR for a long time and I don’t know what I was waiting for. So glad I finally got to it; I’ll definitely keep reading this series.

  • Bill
    2019-03-20 04:05

    Donna Leon is one of my favourite mystery writers. I love the characters, Commissario Brunetti and his family. Signorina Elletra, the Vice Questore's secretary is my favourite character, a strong, independent woman who is able to infiltrate the corners of bureaucracy to get vital information for Brunetti. The setting of Venice and Italy is interesting; you feel like you are walking along the canals of the city. The decay, decadence, corruption is highlighted, but at the same time, the honour and integrity of Brunetti and his Sergeants. I take great comfort in sitting down with one of Donna Leon's Brunetti stories; they are a great read.

  •  Olivermagnus
    2019-03-08 06:56

    Maestro Helmut Wellauer, considered the world's greatest living conductor, is found dead of cyanide poisoning between Acts 2 and 3 of La Traviata at Venice's La Fenice Opera House. Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police is called in to investigate. There are plenty of suspects since Wellauer made a lot of enemies on his way to the top. An engaging and professional man in his forties, Brunetti is one of the three highest detectives working under Vice-Questore Giuseppi Patta, a pretentious man of limited intelligence who holds his position because of politics. It's a pleasure to join Brunetti as he picks his way through the investigation, and the somewhat surprising conclusion. One of the things I really liked about this book is that the reader is involved in Brunetti’s thought processes as he works the investigation. By the end of the story readers are intimately acquainted with him, as well as his family, and he seems like a friend. This is the first mystery in a hugely popular series by Donna Leon that currently has 24 books . It's been on my TBR forever. Now that I've read one I can definitely agree. Leon's Venice is incredibly atmospheric, filled with beautiful buildings, bridges, and, of course, food. The story moves along with leisurely speed over the more interesting parts and briskly over the necessarily drier parts, like autopsy results. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good murder mystery/police procedural. I can't wait to get the next book in the series, Death in a Strange Country.

  • Mj
    2019-03-05 03:52

    I wanted to start a new police procedural series and after doing some research decided to begin the Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leon. The ratings were high on Goodreads and Lj, an avid police procedural reader I follow, rated a number of books in the series quite highly.One of my series’ criteria was to have an interesting central character. In a long running series, I want the police officer solving the crime to have a lot of depth, both personal strengths and foibles and to be very human and someone I can relate to. While I sometimes like intricate plots in standalone mysteries or thrillers, when investing in reading a series, great characters and character development are a must. I like to get to know the people in the series and enjoy the company of people I am spending so much time with. Commissario Guido Brunetti seemed to have lots of interests and looked like he would meet the interesting police officer criteria. The clincher however was the series locale. I have been fond of Italian culture in general and particularly fascinated by Venice, the city of love, beauty, water and canals. What better way to visit a city and country and soak everything up than as an arm chair traveller enjoying an ongoing book series?Death at La Fenice, Book 1 in the Commissario Brunetti series didn’t disappoint. The central character turned out to be as interesting and complex as I’d thought. His thought patterns, demeanour, processes and family all intrigued me. Brunetti is married to a smart working wife named Paola from a well-connected family who is successful in her own right. He is a father to two engaging children who are polar opposites – a precocious daughter named Chiara who loves math and Raffaele (Raffi), a socialist son who is not a big fan of the establishment. My sense is that Brunetti is a sensitive, small “l” liberal in general and encourages his family and others to be critically independent thinkers and to live and let live.Besides his family members, the book’s other characters - his friends, colleagues, boss, the murder victim, witnesses and specialists consulted by Brunelli were all vividly developed and interesting. This series definitely has the makings of an intriguing ensemble cast.The city of Venice played a key role and was a strong character. I quite liked the Venetian life style described and also Guido Brunetti and his family. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone better and to seeing more of Commissario Brunetti in action.The plot development in Death at La Fenice is rather leisurely which was a bit unexpected but nonetheless enjoyable. There weren’t a lot of twists and turns and often minimal information was provided. I suspect the pace was quite realistic and comparable to a real life police officer’s investigation, particularly in a city such as Venice. I felt like I was right beside Brunetti, accompanying him during his visits and interviews with suspects. His investigations felt more like chats with people than business like interrogations. I suspect that Brunetti’s personableness and conversational style will turn out to be one of his investigative strengths – being able to connect with witnesses and murderers and getting them to open up and talk and with him.All in all a good start to what I hope will be a terrific police procedural series.

  • Dirk
    2019-02-28 06:40

    Reading this book reminded me why I can't usually find in genre fiction what satisfies me in a novel. I think this is a pretty good example of genre fiction. It does not flaunt, for example, the deliberately awkward and ugly similes characteristic of noir fiction. I recently stopped reading a detective Chen mystery (A case of Two Cities by Qui Xiaolong) after about 30 pages because from time to time blossomed in my path a simile resembling one of those giant Indonesian flowers that look and smell like rotting flesh to attract flies. And Death in LA Fenice makes some effort at in-depth characterization, unlike say, Agatha Christie, where characterization is like the molding of inexpensive chess pieces – only sufficient to differentiate how they move in the game. It even is in a sense about the character of the victim, but I never felt any of the characters was fully human, had any of the fitful unexpected texture of real people. And the writing is okay, easy to follow, never awkward, but flat. I never said to myself, 'Wow that's a lovely paragraph, or sentence.’ It is set in Venice and the detective walks around Venetian neighborhoods and rides the vaporetto a lot. I have been to Venice several times as a tourist, and it rang true, but it never rang out. It was like a map rather than an aerial view. Geof Dyer's 's Jeff in Venice and Death in Varanasi, not a good book in my view, never the less makes Venice much more alive and interesting. The plot is the process of the detective solving the crime, a process of discovery, like Lambert Strether's discovery of what is going on with Chad Newsome in James’ The Ambassadors, or the process of discovery so popular in family secrete novels these days. An intriguing kind of plot, but the processes of his mind never intrigued me.I recall picking up a copy of the newsletter of the Canadian science fiction writers association at a friend’s house that included an article addressed the issue of whether people who actually tried to write well should be allowed to remain members of the association.Of course, there are exceptions, Raymond Chandler, some Dashiell Hammett, some Ursula K. Le Guin, and Nabokov’s fine science fiction novel Ada, for example.

  • Skyring
    2019-03-01 04:40

    I have not only another long and complex detective series to devour, but a new destination!The city of Venice is a lead character in these books. Not the tourist city of gondoliers and campaniles, but the little nooks and bars that the residents frequent. The Undercity, as it were, that the guidebooks don't mention. Oh, sure, the Grand Canal is here, as is St Marks and all the rest, but the city is shown as a place where people live, where people love, where people commit murder and all manner of crimes.Brunetti makes his appearance in this book, as does his wife and children and the even more childish colleagues of the Venice Police. A very family-oriented book, and family is close to the heart of the death Brunetti must solve, as it is to Brunetti himself.There are some poignant and pungent scenes here, beautifully described by Donna Leon, who clearly knows and loves Venice. Warts and all. And out of a tangle of motives, and days where progress is measured in bottles of wine, Brunetti finds the truth, and with it a new dilemma.

  • Michael
    2019-03-18 03:53

    I love Italy and I've tried reading a few of the Italian masters of crime fiction. I decided to read this because it is on a BBC Book Club list. I was pretty disappointed. Some people might like Donna Leon and I'm sure she has an army of fans but I found the prose stilted and dull, the plot cadaverous and the book stuffed with cliches and dull stereotypes about Italian life and culture. The prose style read as if it had been badly translated from the turns out the author is an American. I more or less guessed the denouement about half way through and by the end I didn't really care much anyway since very few of the characters actually sprang to life. I gave it two stars rather than one because I found myself warming slightly to Commissario Guido Brunetti and because the plot became marginally more interesting in the second half. It didn'tmake me want to go to Venice. I don't think I'll bother with another, I'll stick with genuine Italian crime fiction.

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2019-03-02 07:03

    This was a quick read (for me), so to say I didn't enjoy reading it would be wrong. The prose is good enough - better than "boring", but not quite "interesting." As to characterizations, Commissario Guido Brunetti is almost a real person. It's possible he actually becomes one in subsequent books in the series. The problem is that I like mysteries to be mysteries and I correctly identified the perpetrator very early. I think it was in the 2nd chapter. The clues were too obvious. There were some whys that weren't revealed until later. They were completely understandable, but in no way surprising.In spite of those negative comments, I wouldn't be averse to reading another of this series. I have so many titles I'd like to read, however, that these may not make a ready-to-read list any time soon.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-15 03:58

    I'm gearing up for my first trip to Venice and this book definitely got me in the mood. I enjoyed the descriptions of the city, the differences in how an Italian investigation is run as opposed to the usual American mysteries. If you are looking for a real potboiler, this isn't it. The book seemed more about the people and the places than solving the murder - until the end when suddenly the information all comes together into a resolution. This was a great way to start learning about the city - I might have to bring another Brunetti with me on the trip.

  • Florence Millo
    2019-03-22 01:06

    I enjoyed this mystery. (One thing I appreciated about it was its length. 270 pages is about right IMHO. Too often today authors write by the pound with little to justify the length.) It was well written and the characters well developed. I can see Commissario Brunetti in my future reading.

  • Allison
    2019-03-19 05:44

    This is a so-so murder mystery. It was loaned to me by someone with whom I work because the detective in this series is located in Venice. Then, both my kid's school principal and my mother recommended I read it for the same reason. Honestly, there are apparently another 20 books in the series and I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would read them. This book, while completely readable, is formulaic, predictable and totally acceptable if you have nothing else, but it certainly isn't something special. All the people who recommended the book were late 50's early 60's, so maybe that is part of it, but definitely not something I would recommend.

  • Bfisher
    2019-02-21 03:36

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, but not as a mystery. Early in, I found that I did not care much about knowing who killed the victim. Like Brunetti, I was much more interested in the people Brunetti encountered as he investigated the murder.

  • Fiona
    2019-02-21 06:00

    It was okay. I could have written the detective part of the book. Being based in Venice and about people who grew up and live in Venice, that was pretty interesting. But the detective part was pretty weak.

  • Lewis Weinstein
    2019-03-21 08:43

    Guido Brunetti is a delight, like always. Adding to this book is the fact that we attended a performance in Teatro La Fenice and stayed at the hotel of the same name next door.

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-09 03:06

    I really enjoyed this book, partly because I will be in Venice this spring so wanted to learn more about life there and the city itself. Death at the Fenice did not disappoint in that regard; in fact, it painted a picture of day to day life in that magical city. Commissioner Brunetti must solve a high profile crime--the murder of a highly respected symphony conductor during intermission at the Fenice. As Brunetti methodically interviews all possible suspects, the reader learns, or is reminded, about various opera roles and the talented and sometimes temperamental musicians who sing those parts--interesting if you appreciate opera and classical music and important to the plot as it unfolds. Brunetti is a multifaceted character, and we see him at work and at home in his Venice apartment where he lives with his wise and patient wife, Pauola,and their two teenagers. The plot unfolds in a slow and deliberate way, probably as any investigation would require, as suspects' interviews lead to more possibilities. The reader is kept guessing, but all the while enjoys an interesting "cityscape" of Venice and its palazzos, piazzas, churches, and waterways. I can't wait to be there, and I will definitely read more of the novels in the Commissioner Brunetti series.

  • Joyce Lagow
    2019-03-03 01:38

    First in the Commisario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice, Italy.[return][return]At La Fenice, Venice s renowned opera house, the curtain is ready to go up for the final act of Verdi s La Traviata. Everyone is ready and waiting, but the conductor, the world famous Helmut Wellauer, doesn t appear--because he is dead, of cyanide poisoning, in his dressing room.[return][return]Enter Commisario (Chief Inspector) Guido Brunetti, a compassionate, idealistic but realistic Venetian. Aspects of the case puzzle him; he follows up seemingly trivial facts to uncover a past that leads directly to Wellauer s death.[return][return]The beauty of Leon s books is not the plots, which are very good but nothing really outstanding. Her strengths are in her characters. Brunetti, his wife Paola, their two teenage children Chiara and Raffi, are brilliantly realized. Other recurring characters, such as Vice-Questura Patta, are also memorable; Patta, in the tradition of Racer in the Ricahrd Jury series of Martha Grimes, is unforgettable, and his meetings with Brunetti are hysterically funny. Even the minor characters who appear just once add heft to the book; their authenticity is resounding.[return][return]In addition, Leon, who has lived in Venice many years, writes lovingly and in detail of the city. One of the fun activities I indulged myself in during this reread was to follow Brunetti through Venice s streets and into its establishments via GoogleEarth maps of the city. The locales are real as are establishments such as Biancat s San Polo florist shop. There are photos of buildings in the areas which just adds to the enjoyment, even if it does mean reading while sitting in front of a computer--well worth it![return][return]Last but not least is Leon s wry humor, which at times is exquisite; there were many times when I still, after 4 or 5 rereads of this superb book, laughed out loud, and one passage had me in tears of laughter--again.[return][return]The resolution of the plot is different, certainly, and casts further insights into Brunetti s character.[return][return]A superb book in an excellent series. Highly recommended.

  • Stuart
    2019-03-01 02:38

    I enjoyed this book a lot; sat down and read it in a day. As is often the case, I came back to the first book in a series after having read a few of the later ones. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not – but at least I know that I like the later ones. This is indeed the first book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, set in and featuring the city of Venice. But strangely for me, it immediately featured a character (Brett Lynch) who had already featured in one of the subsequent books I had already read! We also meet many of the characters who will populate the subsequent books – his politically-savvy, but police-work-ignorant boss; his wife and children, his in-laws, and perhaps most of all, the city of Venice, whose waterways and eating places are lovingly described throughout. The books are not so much mysteries as a stroll around Venice, commenting on its people and places and the changes taking place in the venerable city, from the effects of acid rain to the burgeoning tourists forcing out the shops that the dwindling numbers of locals use. Interestingly, the crime takes place in a site that is a part of Venetian history itself. The Teatro La Fenice opera house, the place of the title, burned down since the book was published, and like the Phoenix of its name, was rebuilt later. In this story, a famous German music conductor is found dead from cyanide poisoning in his dressing room in the opera house, between the second and third acts of La Traviata. Brunetti goes about solving the problem in the old-fashioned way – with shoe-leather and personal visits to the suspects and witnesses. The conductor turns out to have been not a very nice person (though a great conductor) so suspects are plentiful. He also has a wife some 30 years younger than he was, and is immediately suspected by Brunetti’s wife (who always gets it wrong, we are told). In addition, the conductor survived World War 2 by collaborating with the Nazi regime. Is that a factor? The book is well written and easy to read. It has the flavor of Maigret, but with more actual detecting. I will continue to dip into the series, perhaps in sequence next time!