Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Death at La Fenice




I've just finished Donna Leon's book Death at La Fenice. I just keep coming across this title all over the blogs I've been reading. I really enjoyed it - I liked her writing style in particular. I loved the setting in Venice, I've never been there but I enjoyed reading about this city. This is not the type of book I generally read; I am not a big murder/mystery/suspense reader. My husband actually asked me if I was reading it for my bookclub since I pick up books like this one so infrequently.

I think this is just not my favorite genre. As much as I enjoyed the book , the parts that kept me going were all the peripheral things - the relationship between the central character and his wife, the descriptions of food and of Venice, life in Italy. The central murder story just didn't interest me that much. I found it interesting how languid the search for the murderer felt. I don't mean lazy - just that the sense of urgency that I feel when watching programs or reading murder mysteries set in the United States wasn't present. I attributed this to the Italian setting and way of life, in the way the character proceeded with his investigation, in the way he interviewed people - it just wasn't aggressive - in a good way.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the picture of everyday life in Venice it gave and the different culural approach to solving a crime. I don't know if I'll read more of these books in the future - there is a series - but I suspect I might given the right circumstances.

9 comments:

Jill said...

I have read one or two Donna Leon mysteries, both for book groups. I don't find them particularly compelling but the glimpses of Venice make them interesting.

Literary Feline said...

My Spanish friend highly recommended this author to me and even sent me a book by her as a gift. But have I read it yet? No. Being somewhat of a stickler for reading series books in order, I obtained a copy of Death at La Fenice and figured I should start there. You've made me seriously consider reading this book for the Summer Mystery Challenge . . . Hmmm.

Danielle said...

I have read several of Donna Leon's mysteries. I discovered them when she wasn't terribly popular over here (even though she is American--shes does have a big following in Europe though), and I am glad to see that she is now being published here as well. You are right--these are definitely more "laid back" mysteries. Maybe it does have to do with the setting. I do like them, though I haven't picked up one in a while. It's good to read outside your comfort zone sometimes!

Tara said...

Jill, I agree.

Literary Feline, what a great idea to read it for the Summer Mystery Challenge. It is definitely a quick read and different than a typical 'mystery' book.

Danielle, I agree it IS good to read outside my comfort zone but I do find it tough! In that the books I generally am interested in ARE in my comfort zone and with limited reading time I hate to spend time on something I may not enjoy. This was definitely a good jaunt outside my zone, though. Thanks for stopping by.

nutmeg said...

I have seen her about the place too and just haven't taken the plunge. I'm like literary feline in that I like to start at the beginning of a series - it's good to know which book to get!

Bookgirl said...

I've read a couple of the Brunetti mysteries and I enjoy them but you are absolutely right, it's probably more to do with the setting than the actual murdery mystery part (although I do love mysteries). I've got one or two more in the series waiting for me.

Tara said...

Nutmeg, I always like to start at the beginning too. "A very good place to start" in the words of Maria.

Bookgirl, some books are like that aren't they - more about the setting. I actually picked up another Donna Leon ARC at the HPB sale since it was only 40 cents.

Lotus said...

I've read a few of Donna leon's books too, and I LOVED them!
I enjoy crime books, but the thing that I liked best about them was definitely that they all take place in Venice! I've never been there, but it has been my dream for many years!
If you guys like Venice I can recommend: "The Thief Lord" by Cornelia Funke and "The city of stars" by Mary Hoffman =)

Tara said...

Lotus, thanks for stopping by! I would also love to travel to Venice. Thanks for the book suggestions - I am going to check them out!