Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon

Publisher: Random House, 2008
ISBN: 9780434018031
Pages: 276

First line: Brunetti found that counting silently to four and then again and again allowed him to block out most other thoughts.

Brunetti and his deputy Vianello, pull the body of a young girl out of one of the canals of Venice. Strangely she hasn’t been reported missing, and the theft of the jewellery found in her possession has also not been reported. Brunetti’s search to find out who she is and how she met her death takes him from the palazzos of wealthy Venetians to a gypsy camp on the mainland. He finds everyone has something to hide, and untangling the lies and secrets proves difficult.

Leon touches on a lot of issues in this book: Italian politics, government and judicial corruption, the inevitable changes to Venice and Venetian society brought about by tourism and the march of time, but mostly she is concerned with the social issues associated with the influx of eastern European refugees, particularly gypsies or Rom. She deals with the issues sensitively but realistically, as Guido finds his own liberal views challenged.

I liked this book a lot: the wonderfully evoked Venice, Guido and his very normal family (and those fabulous meals!), as well as an engaging plot. My only criticism is that the side plot about a dodgy preacher seems little more than filler and didn’t really add anything to the book as a whole.

I’ve only read one other book in this series, the first, Death at La Fenice. There have been another 15 books in between, and I look forward to working my way through them. Interestingly only a few years have passed in the life of Brunetti since the first book. This is a popular series and fans won’t be disappointed in The Girl of His Dreams.

Donna Leon is an American who has been living in Venice for over twenty years. This is the 17th Brunetti novel.

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