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So Shall You Reap

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For those who know Venice, or want to, Brunetti is a well-versed escort to the nooks, crannies, moods, and idiosyncrasies of what residents call La Serenissima, the Serene One . . . Richly atmospheric, [Leon] introduces you to the Venice insiders know.”— USA Today

Readers of my blog know that I am a great fan of Leon’s Brunetti series of Venice-set mysteries. Both the books and the TV series have been so enjoyable. (The TV show episodes got me through some of the early days of Covid. I found Brunetti having dinner looking out at the canals so grounding in that time.) I love the character that she has developed in him; Brunetti sees so much corruption yet remains a good man, a good husband, a good father and a good friend. I have found the books to be ones that I am always eager to read. While in Venice, Leon became enamored of the gondola as a form of transportation. It’s no coincidence that Guido Brunetti often finds himself on a gondola when traveling from the Questura to various crime scenes. Leon wrote an amusing letter that is still posted at the local Questura to travelers hoping to meet her fictional detective. I would give anything to be able to experience this! The latest Donna Leon book is titled Trace Elements, published in early 2020. Currently, there is a Donan Leon TV series adapted from her Guido Brunetti books to the German television, title Commissario Brunetti. The TV show, produced in 2000 by ARD, has also been aired in Spain and Finland. In fact, close to 20 novels have been produced as broadcast dramas by German television. Opera is a major leisure pursuit. Top of her list of best-loved composers is Handel. For many years, until his death in 2020, Leon was friendly with Peter Jonas, a fellow lover of Handel’s music, manager of the English National Orchestra and a talented raconteur. When he was very young he attended a Benedictine boys’ boarding school which he described as a gulag with a crucifix in every room.Donna Leon provides another delectable slice of the thoughtful policeman’s life at work and at home—where his wife, Paola (an expert on Henry James), keeps him and their two children, Chiara and Raffi, on their toes. So Shall You Reap is as witty and wise as anything Leon has written. To read her is to restore the soul.”— Mark Sanderson, Times (UK) Leon’s] memoir invites readers into her world of adventures, and she’s certainly had plenty . . . She vividly and engaging describes her love of crime, Venice, and opera, her dream of finding the perfect cappuccino (more difficult than one might imagine), and the games she created with friends throughout the world. Leon’s wit and life well-lived will draw in varied audiences, who can live vicariously through her. Fans of her series will certainly enjoy this memoir and the brief letter she includes to dissuade them from trying to find Guido Brunetti at the Questura.” — Library Journal But the foreign country that changed Ms. Leon’s life, and the one that most readers will be interested to hear her experience of and her opinions on, is Italy. She got her first taste of the place in the late ’60s, when a former university classmate asked her to accompany her on a trip. She fell in love with the people and la dolce vitaduring her stay and finally settled in Venice in the early ’80s. You become so wrapped up in these compelling characters . . . Each one is better than the last.”— Louise Erdrich, PBS NewsHour

Why does Brunetti go through the trouble of changing his suit for his meeting with Vice-Questore Patta? How does he behave during their conversation? Is he effective in his encounters with his boss, and why or why not? The beauty for me in these books is in the little things, the details of everyday life and small interactions between the city’s people. An atmosphere is created of a place unchanged on the surface but ever changing underneath. Brunetti harbours a certain resentment in respect of the incremental changes ongoing in this place, but isn’t that true of all of us as we reach a certain age? And as the story settles into the investigation of a recognisable crime, he gathers those police officers close to him (characters well known to regular readers) and, between coffees, they ruminate on possible motives and root around to discover information that might lead them to a suspect. As always, it’s beautifully done and once more I experienced a pang of regret when I reached the story’s end and had to say farewell to these people and this place until (hopefully) the next book in the series is published.Gracias a su prosa descriptiva, Leon captura con pasmosa facilidad el pulso y el ritmo de Venecia, pero no de la Venecia atestada por hordas de turistas, si no de la Venecia real, la de aquellos que viven allí, siendo los momentos más memorables esos pequeños detalles del día a día, esas interacciones en apariencia irrelevantes, pero que permiten crear una atmósfera de un lugar que, aunque no cambia en su superficie, bajo esta se encuentra en continuo cambio. So Shall You Reap is the thirty-second book in the Commissario Brunetti series by award-winning American-born author, Donna Leon. Another visit to Guido Brunetti’s Venice, and it’s a good one! While there are plenty of day-to-day tasks and issues keeping Commissario Guido Brunetti busy, it’s the vicious stabbing murder of an undocumented Sri Lankan servant that draws his attention from them. The crimes Guido Brunetti investigates in the Donna Leon novels are typical of big-city issues, such as mafia, corruption, and crimes around the world of art and the world of the Church. The books are not extremely gory with a lot of blood spilled by either party. Instead, the Commissario Guido Brunetti is attempting to understand the criminals with their motivations, to see what really drives them. He also wants to know what drives the victims as well. He is a generally optimistic person, just like the author is as well. Donna Leon created Guido Brunetti as a man she actually likes. He is a nice guy with a strong intellect and sense of ethics. His colleagues are in constant admiration of his intellect, professionalism, and fast-decision abilities.

It’s not a typical memoir, more like a series of vignettes. Those who go in expecting a straightforward story of her life will be disappointed. Leon’s times teaching in Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and on an American army base in Italy lend themselves to some interesting points about the various countries and the differences in American societal classes. This endlessly enjoyable series, with its deep thoughts about justice and vengeance and charming classical allusions, can’t help making you smile.”— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review She shares amusing anecdotes about selling tomatoes to fund college, and her mother’s disastrous Christmas turkey. She confesses her love of Tosca, of Handel; and she has a moan about music pollution. In Donna Leon’s sure hands, the crime novel becomes an instrument for exploring social justice and universal truths about human behavior while beautifully telling a compelling story.” —Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Arizona

Brilliantly evokes Venetian atmosphere. The characters of Brunetti and his family continue to deepen throughout this series.” — The Times (London) There is no better literary tour guide to Venice and the surrounding landscape than Leon, and each entry provides complex, memorable characters and storylines that touch the moral center of the human spirit . . . So Shall You Reap is authentic throughout and lives up to the lofty reputation that Donna Leon has rightly earned for this series, which never fails to enlighten with each new intriguing mystery.”— Book Reporter As Brunetti considers the effects of political rhetoric, he recalls an evening hosting university friends whose class-conscious views he particularly admired—and his mother’s stinging criticism of them after they left. Why did Brunetti’s mother find his friends’ words so hollow? What made her “invisible” to them? What parallels, if any, are there to the “invisibility” of the Toulouse statistician whose presentation Signorina Elettra attends? Wandering Through Life” contains some standout chapters, including one on how bees and beekeeping played an integral role in the plot of the Brunetti novel “Earthly Remains” (2017), and another in which Ms. Leon, now 80, ruminates on “the other end of life.” But although Ms. Leon’s slim memoir proves warm, witty and engaging, some readers and most fans will be left wanting more. She offers an overview of her life rather than an in-depth trawl through it.

Each visit with Guido is different. Sometimes it’s about the shop owners or residents or elderly or theft of art or government or political or navy To Guido's surprise, he recognises the murdered man, he had met him the previous day, the undocumented Sri Lankan, Inesh Kavinda, a peace loving Buddhist who did various job's for the Palazzo's owners, a Italian academic Professor Renato Molin and his wife, Gloria Forcolin, who he had met previously. There seems to be no motive for Kavinda's killing, accounts seem to bear out that he was a good man, although there are papers in his home that make no sense. They relate to Italy's turbulent political and violent history, with its kidnappings and disappearances, but why would the Sri Lankan man be interested in this? Guido follows a number of threads, aided by the able Signorina Elettra, who refines a method she learns of at a conference, along with Vianello and Commissario Claudia Griffoni.

Donna Leon is the undisputed crime fiction queen . . . Leon’s ability to capture the social scene and internal politics [of Venice] is first-rate. (Baltimore Sun) The story begins when Alvise is detained at a gay rights demonstration in Treviso for resisting arrest. It gives Paola a good laugh that Guido has never realized after years of working with him that Alvise is gay. Brunetti paused a moment and searched his memory for any protest threatened for that weekend. Not the train drivers, not the remaining No-Vax, not the workers at Marghera – who seemed in a perpetual state of protest – and not medical professionals, who had protested two weeks before.

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