Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice, the first novel in her beloved Commissario Guido Brunetti series, introduced readers to the glamorous and cutthroat world of opera and one of Italy’s finest living sopranos, Flavia Petrellithen a suspect in the poisoning of a renowned German conductor. Years after Brunetti cleared her name and saved the life of her female American lover in Acqua Alta, Flavia has returned to Venice and La Fenice to sing the lead in Tosca, and Brunetti has tickets to an early performance.
The night he and his wife, Paola, attend, Flavia gives a stunning performance to a standing ovation. Back in her dressing room, she finds bouquets of yellow rosestoo many roses. Every surface of the room is covered with them. An anonymous fan has been showering Flavia with these beautiful gifts in London, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, and now, Venice, but she no longer feels flattered. A few nights later, invited by Brunetti to dine at his in-laws’ palazzo, Flavia confesses her alarm at these excessive displays of adoration. Brunetti promises to look into it. And when a talented young Venetian singer who has caught Flavia’s attention is savagely attacked, Brunetti begins to think that Flavia’s fears are justified in ways neither of them imagined. He must enter in the psyche of an obsessive fan before Flavia, or anyone else, comes to harm.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have been on a Donna Leon binge the past nine months and read all of her Guido Brunetti novels and been dazzled by the insights, the psychological detail, the complexity of characters and their actions and the native's view of Venice. FALLING IN LOVE is the first time I've been disappointed. The villain of this particular novel is not given the intelligence and creativity to pull off the things that are pulled off. In fact the villain is rather a dullard who doesn't understand things said or done to the villain. Anyway, I'm grateful to Ms. Leon for Detective Brunetti, his family and his co-workers and the rich world she made for them to inhabit.
A pet peeve: In ALL of the novels at the beginning there is a quote from a libretto of a famous opera. Ms. Leon always credits the composer but never the actual librettist who wrote the words. A sad thing for a writer to do.
Donna Leon's mysteries are not your standard police procedural see-if-you-can-solve-the-crime stories. You are not going to be able to figure this one out, so just let the (mostly) congenial gang at the Questura (police department) handle the investigation and enjoy the gondola ride through Venice.
If you're a regular reader of Donna Leon, you'll enjoy the banter between Guido and his wife, Paola, and between Guido and his colleagues. If you are new to these mysteries, you will no doubt find the pace slow and the mystery so subtle as to be nearly nonexistent. The pace is something that comes with the territory, which is of course, Venice, nicknamed La Serenissima, The Serene One. No car chases here.
The drama in Falling in Love is provided by the opera Tosca, which features the center of our attention, Flavia Petrelli, a diva that Guido met in the very first mystery in the series,...
Donna Leon comes full circle in her terrific Commissario Guido Brunnetti series with a return to Venice's La Fenice opera house, where these novels debuted. Soprano Flavia Petrelli, who was the damsel in distress in that first book, returns triumphantly to Venice some 20 years later as a full-fledged international star. Unfortunately for her, fame has brought with it the usual problems of loss of privacy, artistic rivalries and demanding fans. Diva Petrelli has acquired one of the latter whose attentions have begun to frighten her. She turns to Guido Brunnetti for help.
While there is a reasonably interesting plot to "Falling in Love", this story is much more about the life of an opera singer and, very specifically, a very close look at the libretto, architecture and staging of Puccini's dark opera "Tosca". Not saying this in a critical way, but I'm willing to bet this novel was written by author Leon as a tribute to Puccini, La Fenice and opera in...
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