21.4.14

THE JEWELS OF PARADISE, by Donna Leon

Stand-alone contemporary fiction. Abandoning Commissario Brunetti and the Venice Questura, Donna Leon ventures out with a free-standing novel about a twenty-first century baroque musicologist, Caterina Pellegrini, who returns to her home town for a new job investigating the contents of two 17th century trunks. Two distant relatives, greedy men, now seek to understand the possible legacy from a priest who owned the trunks. Despite a shaky premise (the Vatican giving up two ancient unopened trunks? Not!), the story is fascinating and moves along briskly to its climax. A 4; the writing is, as always, stellar, but for me the plot’s a bit shaky and some of the characterizations aren’t up to Leon’s usual high standards.
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