Falling in Love (Commissario Brunetti 24) by Donna Leon

falling in loveVissi d’amore…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Famous opera star Flavia Petrelli is back at La Fenice in Venice to sing the lead in Tosca. But she has brought with her an unknown admirer who has been turning up at her performances in various cities and showering her with vast quantities of yellow roses. Although she has not been physically threatened, Flavia is finding the obsessiveness of this fan unsettling and when she returns to her apartment after a performance to find another bouquet propped against her door, her unease turns to fear. Over dinner with her old friend Commissario Guido Brunetti, she tells him what’s been going on. At first he’s not too worried, but when a young opera singer in whom Flavia had shown an interest is savagely attacked, he wonders if there’s a connection…

This is only my second Brunetti book although it’s the twenty-fourth in the series. Apparently Flavia appeared in the very first book but I didn’t find it a problem at all that I hadn’t read it. This one works perfectly well as a standalone.

Flavia’s friendship with Brunetti is a distant one, enough for them to be glad to meet and catch up, but not close enough for Brunetti to really know about her life. In fact, most of what he knows he’s gleaned from celebrity magazines. The first few chapters are told from Flavia’s point of view, giving what feels like an authentic picture of the life of an opera star, on stage and off. She has a family – two children and an ex-husband – but her career means she is often on the road, and we get a good feeling for the loneliness she sometimes feels once the glamour of her performance is over. She can be over-dramatic at times, to Brunetti’s annoyance, and this can mean that people think she’s exaggerating. But Brunetti soon comes to believe that her fears are well grounded.

(The descriptions of the opera are so good they almost convinced this opera-hater that I’d like to see Tosca performed. But then I listened to this and realised no, I really would rather stick hot knitting needles in my ears. Enjoy!)

These books have a slightly old-fashioned air about them – no bad thing, in my opinion. Brunetti’s family life is a happy one and the interludes with them add some lightness to the overall tone. The depiction of Venice feels as if it’s stuck in a time-warp from thirty or forty years ago but perhaps Venice really is that out of date. Sadly, I’ve never been there. However, the way the police operate comes over as distinctly amateurish at times, with them having to find out how to requisition CCTV footage, etc., and the idea that the only person who can use the computer properly is the Vice-Questore’s secretary is surely unbelievable. However, the tensions between the various officers give an indication of how much this society is still dependant on patronage rather than merit. And Brunetti himself is a thoughtful detective, relying on brain rather than brawn to solve his cases.

Donna Leon
Donna Leon

There is a slight whodunit element to the book but it’s more about the why than the who really. The plotting is excellent and the characterisation of the main players is very strong. The pace is fairly leisurely, rather like the pace of life in Venice itself, but it never flags in what is quite a short book. And as it heads towards the finale both pace and tension ratchet up. In the last book in the series, By Its Cover, I felt the ending let it down rather. Quite the reverse in this one! A true thriller ending, as dramatic as an opera itself, it had me racing through the last pages as it came to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. Most enjoyable. I’m sure fans will love this one, and it would also be a good introduction for someone coming new to the series. If I ever get time, I’ll go back and read the twenty-two I’ve missed…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Grove Atlantic.

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43 thoughts on “Falling in Love (Commissario Brunetti 24) by Donna Leon

  1. Oh, good, I’m glad this one has a better ending – like you, I was slightly disappointed by the previous book in the series, although I usually love Brunetti and his family (and his home town).

  2. I have to say, FictionFan, that I’m a fan of this series. I like it so much that Brunetti is stable, with a solid home life and so on. And of course, the Venice setting is wonderful. I’m particularly fond of his wife, Paola. Hmm….she’s an academic who thinks for herself and speaks her mind. Wonder why I find her so appealing… 😉
     
    It’s good to hear that you liked this one. I thought it a very neat stroke to have Flavia return in this novel, actually.

    • Haha! And who spends all her free time reading… 😉

      Yes, I’m growing to like this series very much, and although I hadn’t read the earlier one where Flavia appeared, this one worked fine and didn’t really give any spoilers away for the first one.

  3. I don’t think the book is quite for me, but any post with the divine Maria Callas Vissi d’arte ing from Tosca must get my vote. I guess you might have missing operatic soprano pleasure neurons or something. Callas (and other wonderful sopranos) seem to be directly wired into my tear ducts; much pleasurable weeping ensues (but very silently, so as not to miss a single note)

    • I put the video in specially for you, m’lady! I knew you would be reduced to your usual soppy state. I must say it almost made me cry too, but not for the same reasons… 😉

          • Oh wasn’t that lovely! I kept hearing it in my head as I was thinking about the book. I think my next ‘review’ is going to be musical anyway, due to some recent concert-going.

            • I shall look forward to that! It’s been ages since I went to a concert – must look and see what’s coming up. I suspect I’ll need serious cheering up after Thursday – whatever the outcome! Meantime I think it might be a Dylan afternoon…

            • Oh, absolutely (re the cheer-up) And (cheers up – I’m off to a concert on Thursday, Mozart and Mahler, and by the time I get back those polls will be closed, and there will be nothing to do except….either to sit up biting my nails, or, most probably go glumly and early to bed.

  4. You’ve chosen another prolific author who I haven’t read although I’m not sure why not. I do like the slightly more old fashioned feel and if pushed to choose, the why over the who…. and you’ve given it the full five stars – ho hum on the list it goes!!

    • They are enjoyable, L. Marie. Lighter than some of the more graphic modern crime novels but still with good plots, and Brunetti is a strong, likeable central character. Hope you enjoy them!

  5. Yeah, the opera might also put one to sleep. I’ve seen only one opera. I actually witnessed only half of it. I was tired and it was dark.

    I think she might hunt killer herself.

    • The problem is that those screechy sopranos would wake one up! Ballet’s much easier to sleep through…

      Perhaps she was the killer – maybe she hit a note so high her victim’s brain exploded!

      • I once played while a dancer danced. You wouldn’t believe how they can stretch! Backstage…she was going into all sorts of contortions! I felt so stiff the sudden.

        Ew! How awful, really. She seems very proper and polite, now that I think on it.

        • Flamenco??? *jealous* Yeah, I kinda hate supple people – it’d be fun to tie their legs in knots though, and then start the music…

          I’m lost – are we talking about Flavia or Donna?

          • Oh no, it wasn’t that. It was a very subdued thing. In fact, I couldn’t even see her dance. I was separated from her. The room was huge. Most awkward thing–ever. *laughing lots* It sure would be! Making me feel real ancient!

            Haha…Donna, of course! I try not to use their names, so you won’t get in trouble.

  6. Hot knitting needles in your eyes??? Yikes! I think opera is an acquired taste. Personally, I tend to tune out the screeching and focus on the music. That said, this sounds like an interesting read. I, too, wonder why police departments in some books seem so inept, but maybe the authors know something I don’t?!!

    • Haha! One I’ve never managed to acquire, despite being subjected to it by cruel sisters and friends over the years! I love classical music, but the singing hurts! Could be worse though – could be a choir of sweet little children… 😉

      The inept police thing does seem to be a strand through a lot of crime fiction, but it’s not so common when the hero is a policeman himself, like in this one. Not that he’s stupid – just doesn’t seem to have caught up with technology…

  7. I have yet to read Donna Leon, although I think I have a couple in the 746. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I like the sound of this. I hope it doesn’t matter if you don’t read them in order!

    • They’re a bit lighter than a lot of today’s crime fiction without being at all cosy. The two that I’ve read have certainly worked as standalones, even though this one brought back a character from the first book. Hope you enjoy!

  8. Haha, so ironic as I just read the first in the series, so the opera singer immediately sounded familiar! I’m looking forward to working through some more books in the series. The first was a very 3/5 kind of book – good, solid, but not gripping. I’m hoping that the characters will build a bit as the series progresses, but time will tell. At least I know the ones towards the end are worth a read!! 😀

    • Even from the two I’ve read, I suspect these might be quite variable – this one was much better than the last one. But I think Brunetti and his family do develop well – they’re good characters in these ones. I always admire the way you start at the beginning of a series and stick with it – I’m such a butterfly mind!

  9. I love books that get you interested in something you’ve never cared about before, such as opera. I’ll add this author to the TBR file, but will keep the knitting needles close by…

    • Haha! Yes, the knitting needles are essential – but the good thing is you can read the book without hearing the singing… I think I prefer opera that way… 😉

  10. Like some of the others, Donna Leon’s series is one that I’ve been meaning to read, but have not to this point. And it is a long one. Ah well, hopefully, I’ll get to it. I’ve heard several say it is a good one. Maybe I’ll start with this one, although….well, I do like to read in order.

    • I used to try to read in order but I’ve given up now! Both of the ones of these that I’ve read have worked fine as standalones, though I’m sure reading in order would mean you’d feel more involved with the main characters. I’m enjoying them though…

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