Friday, February 25, 2011

A good read

Life has been a bit full since I last posted and anyway I need to prove to myself that I can post short as well as long. J  So I’m just going to introduce you to one of my favourite authors and leave you to get acquainted.

Like a lot of clergy, I love detective novels. Perhaps it’s something to do with the eternal struggle between good and evil, the need to try to restore the balance between right and wrong. Whatever it is, and I’m too tired today to try to analyse it any further, I read a lot of them and enjoy discovering new authors, as well as returning to old favourites.

At the moment I’m reading Wilful Behaviour by Donna Leon, an American who has lived for many years in Italy, and whose knowledge and understanding of this complex and often corrupt society comes through very clearly in her writing.  Like all her books, it’s set in Venice and features her wonderful main character, the unforgettable Commissario Brunetti.

Donna Leon is very much in my top ten list of favourites for a number of reasons. Her writing is elegant and spare and superbly atmospheric. She knows Venice intimately and makes it into almost another character, rather than just a backdrop to the main story. Her characters are finely drawn and utterly believable, and it’s satisfying to watch them develop from book to book. Her plots are well-crafted, often sombre and almost always ambiguous.

Don’t read Donna Leon if you want nice, neat, happy endings, but if you prefer a story that will challenge you as you read it and linger on in your mind long after you’ve finished reading, then do try her. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Image via Wylio


  1. Ooh yes. Lovely author. Totally agree.

  2. I've seen she'll be another for the book order.

    I'm re reading Nicolas Freeling...his Castang the moment.

  3. Oh she sounds like an author I would enjoy.

    Have you read any Barbara Nadel? She writes very much in the style of Ian Rankin, except her detective stories are based in Turkey. Great stuff if you get a chance to have a look.

  4. Glad you agree, Rosie. I think she's superb and her standard never falters. Who else do you enjoy?

    Fly, you won't regret adding her to your order. Such a very intelligent, perceptive writer. I read Nicholas Freeing back in my librarian days and must give him another try.

    Ayak, I hope you can get hold of one of her books as a taster. Thanks for telling me about Barbara Nadel. I've read Ian Rankin, but she's a welcome new name for me to try.

    Doesn't sound like any of us will be getting much housework done at this rate :-)

  5. Ooh thank you for the recommendation, I love detective novels, have you tried Denise Mina? mostly set in Glasgow, some incredible prose juxtaposed with the vernacular but if you can cope with a bit dialect and some sweary words, worth an afternoon.

  6. Michele Giuttari writes crime novels about Florence 'lover of a good bottle of local Rossi di Montalcino, smoker of Antico Toscan cigars - and head of Florence's elite police force, the squadra mobile'.

  7. Wow, thanks auntiegwen and Rosie! Two new authors to try as well as Ayak's recommendation. I shan't get anything else done at this rate :-)

  8. I,too, am a lover of Donna leon, but have got behind with her novels. So I shall look forward to catching up on this one and dipping into some of the other suggestions here too!

  9. She's so well worth the time, Sian. I have a new one waiting to be started, A Venetian Reckoning.

    I really enjoy the book recommendations I find on blogs with the result that my To Read list is getting longer and longer.


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