7.6.15

THE JEWELS OF PARADISE, by Donna Leon

This is not part of the Commisario Brunetti series, this is a stand-alone set in contemporary Venice. It is, however, something of a mystery, and follows the painstaking research of Caterina Pellegrini, who has left an unsatisfying job in England and returned to her birth city for a short-term commission. Two ancient trunks have been found, and may contain clues as to a legendary treasure. All Venetian families of any age apparently have family treasure legends, and the two distantly-related men who have laid claim to the trunks' contents don't trust each other enough to work in tandem. Caterina, a music historian, will document and analyze the contents, overseen by the handsome, polished lawyer Andrea Morelli. Click below for more...
As she wades through pages of research in a nearby library, tantalizing hints begin to reveal the life of the trunks' original owner, a churchman who wrote sublime music, but also acted as the Vatican's representative in many of Germany's Protestant states. It is only the last 10% of the novel that begins to reveal the complex modern-day plot and motivations, and it is probably my enthusiasm for Brunetti and his gang (who are not in this novel) that disappointed me with the endless in-depth descriptions of Caterina's research. In all, I think this would've made a superb novella, maybe 2/3 of its published size, but as a full-length book it dragged. I'll give it a 3.5; no problem with the writing, not much problem with the plot (although it is a bit thin in spots), just a problem with the length and the all-too-tedious recounting of the all-too-tedious research.
Find the author at www.donnaleon.net
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