29 November 2012

Review: THE JEWELS OF PARADISE, Donna Leon

  • published Grove Atlantic 2012
  • Format: Kindle e-book
  • File Size: 399 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0434022284
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (October 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009IJZD9C
  • source:  review copy supplied by publisher through NetGalley.com
Synopsis (NetGalley)

Donna Leon has won heaps of critical praise and legions of fans for her best-selling mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, one of contemporary crime fiction’s most beloved characters. Over twenty-one books this sharp, kind-hearted native Venetian {??] has exposed read­ers to contemporary Venice in all its aspects: its arts and architecture, food and family life, but also its crime and insidious corruption. With The Jewels of Paradise, Leon takes readers beyond the world of the Venetian Questura in her first stand-alone novel.

Caterina Pellegrini is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she’s had to leave home to pursue her career elsewhere, mostly abroad. With a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, she lands in Birmingham, England, as a research fellow and assistant professor. Birmingham, however, is no Venice, so when she gets word of a position back home, Caterina jumps at the opportunity.

The job is an unusual one. After nearly three centuries, two locked trunks, believed to contain the papers of a once-famous, now largely forgotten baroque composer, have been discovered. The composer was deeply connected in religious and political circles, but he died childless, and now two Venetian men, descendants of his cousins, each claim inheritance. With rumors of a treasure, they aren’t about to share the possible fortune. Caterina has been hired to attend the opening of the trunks and examine any enclosed papers to discover the “testamentary disposition” of the composer. But when her research takes her in unexpected directions and a silent man follows her through the streets, she begins to wonder just what secrets these trunks may hold. From a masterful writer, The Jewels of Paradise is a superb novel, a grip­ping tale of intrigue, music, history, and greed.

My Take

While there will be some who love this book, I'm afraid I am not one of them. I think I love the Guido Brunetti series (see my reviews below) too much.

THE JEWELS OF PARADISE felt a bit bloated to me. I couldn't fault the research and accepted that the author had a few things she needed to get off her chest, but there were times when I felt myself losing interest.

Part of (my) trouble is probably that it barely falls into the crime fiction category. Sure there is a possible murder that took place some 400 years ago when a prominent man simply disappeared, and then in the current setting there is some fraud and deception happening. But the author felt too compelled to give me the benefit of her research and I also got impatient with Caterina humming over baroque music in her head.

I found the final denouement barely satisfactory. I could understand why the "cousins" were interested in the possible treasure but couldn't get a handle on what the lawyer was trying to do. Although there is some irony at the end that made me chuckle. It tied in well with the discussion in the story about people seeing things differently because they are viewing them from different perspectives.

My rating: 3.9

I've also reviewed
ABOUT FACE
THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
4.4, A QUESTION OF BELIEF
4.5, BEASTLY THINGS
4.4, QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like this as much as you'd hoped. I was wondering what it might be like, as I'm a fan of the Brunetti series too. Perhaps I'll wait a bit on this...

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