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Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti #1)
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Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  10,077 ratings  ·  1,102 reviews
Death at La Fenice Beautiful and serene Venice is a city almost divoid of crime. But that is little comfort to Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who is poisoned one night during intermission. As Guido Brunetti, vice-commissario of police and a genius of detection, pieces together the clues, a shocking picture of depravity and revenge emerges. Full descrip ...more
Paperback, 263 pages
Published 1994 by Pan Books (first published 1992)
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Jennannej I agree with Tara. It's a fun, entertaining mystery, but most mysteries don't have enough for a really engaging discussion.
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Tea Jovanović
Nažalost, naša publika nije dobro prihvatila ovu autorku i njen serijal knjiga pa je izdavač odustao od daljeg objavljivanja... Šteta... Donu Leon sam imala prilike da upoznam na jednom sajmu i da RTS-u obezbedim kratko "časkanje" s njom... I naravno, ne gubim nadu da će je neko opet objavljivati u Srbiji... Da ne poverujete, krimići, ubistva, i prelepa Venecija i publika to ne prihvata :)
Let me start by saying that I love Venice and all things Venetian. I love reading anything that has to do with Venice. So the fact that this book takes place in Venice gave it at least one redeeming quality. I've heard from more than one person that Donna Leon was a good author, but after reading this book, I have serious doubts about that and I'm not sure she deserves a second chance. She set up a great plot and had intruiging characters, but then did nothing with them. I got halfway through th ...more
May 18, 2012 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Well, I've now entered the world of Commissario Guido Brunetti, of the police force of Venice. This is the first of Donna Leon's long-running series set in that fabled city, which is equally a character in the novel. This was an enjoyable beginning with a nice introduction to Brunetti's family, his investigation techniques, many fellow officers, and assorted Venetians of all stripes. His travels around the city give an interesting and occasionally claustrophobic feeling to the place.

I enjoyed th
Before I get to the review part, can I ask a question of my Goodreads friends? I know some of you probably speak Italian, so can someone please tell me how to properly pronounce "Fenice"? With my years of French I automatically go with "Fe-nees", but I suspect the correct pronunciation might be "Fen-nee-che". Whenever I have to say the title out loud I'm never sure if I'm saying it right and always end up waffling between the two options. So it'd be nice if someone could tell me how to say it ri ...more
Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to Venice's La Fenice, the city's premiere opera house, when the infamous maestro Helmut Wallhauer is found dead in his dressing room after intermission. Brunetti must quickly solve this case as the victim's high profile creates added pressure on city officials to provide answers.

Brunetti is introduced in this first book of the series and he is an interesting study. His investigation style probably conforms with that of his city's culture, more of a laid bac
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This was a quick read (for me), so to say I didn't enjoy reading it would be wrong. The prose is good enough - better than "boring", but not quite "interesting." As to characterizations, Commissario Guido Brunetti is almost a real person. It's possible he actually becomes one in subsequent books in the series.

The problem is that I like mysteries to be mysteries and I correctly identified the perpetrator very early. I think it was in the 2nd chapter. The clues were too obvious. There were some w
I have not only another long and complex detective series to devour, but a new destination!

The city of Venice is a lead character in these books. Not the tourist city of gondoliers and campaniles, but the little nooks and bars that the residents frequent. The Undercity, as it were, that the guidebooks don't mention. Oh, sure, the Grand Canal is here, as is St Marks and all the rest, but the city is shown as a place where people live, where people love, where people commit murder and all manner o
I have read @ ten of Donna Leon's books and this review reflects my opinion of most of them. Some have a slightly better story, a little more engaging than others, but for the most part, the books are about Brunetti, and about Venezia, and the Italian people.

Commissario Guido Brunetti is a deep and interesting character, but he is unlike most detectives you’ll find in American mystery books. Brunetti solves crimes with his wits, and all the while deals with crooked politicians; his independent a
Reading this book reminded me why I can't usually find in genre fiction what satisfies me in a novel. I think this is a pretty good example of genre fiction. It does not flaunt, for example, the deliberately awkward and ugly similes characteristic of noir fiction. I recently stopped reading a detective Chen mystery (A case of Two Cities by Qui Xiaolong) after about 30 pages because from time to time blossomed in my path a simile resembling one of those giant Indonesian flowers that look and smel ...more
I quite enjoyed this little mystery. It's the first in a series taking place in and around Venice. The protagonist is an affable police commissioner who manages to run his investigations his own way, in spite of a blustery clueless boss, all the time adhering to the societal, often archaic, rules and norms of Venice.

Some pluses for me - First of all it takes place in Italy, a place I love. There's lots of talk about food and wine, two of my favorite things. I love how everyone here has a glass
I love Italy and I've tried reading a few of the Italian masters of crime fiction. I decided to read this because it is on a BBC Book Club list. I was pretty disappointed. Some people might like Donna Leon and I'm sure she has an army of fans but I found the prose stilted and dull, the plot cadaverous and the book stuffed with cliches and dull stereotypes about Italian life and culture. The prose style read as if it had been badly translated from the turns out the author is an Ame ...more
Donna Leon is one of my favourite mystery writers. I love the characters, Commissario Brunetti and his family. Signorina Elletra, the Vice Questore's secretary is my favourite character, a strong, independent woman who is able to infiltrate the corners of bureaucracy to get vital information for Brunetti. The setting of Venice and Italy is interesting; you feel like you are walking along the canals of the city. The decay, decadence, corruption is highlighted, but at the same time, the honour and ...more
“Death at La Fenice,” written in 1992, is a fine introduction to Donna Leon’s popular Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series. I wouldn’t stick with the series based on the plot alone, which was hardly compelling, but the characters of Guido and Paola Brunetti; the setting, that one-of-a-kind city, Venice; and the strong recommendations of two friends make me eager for more.

I was taken with Commissario Brunetti at once. He is bright, wry, and eminently practical, and knows just how to handle h
It was okay. I could have written the detective part of the book. Being based in Venice and about people who grew up and live in Venice, that was pretty interesting. But the detective part was pretty weak.
Leon, Donna. DEATH AT LA FENICE. (1992). ****.
This was the author’s first in her series of cases featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti and the city of Venice – so much for my reading the books in order. The mysteries, so far, seem to be low key psychological investigations into various crimes, concentrating on the people behind the crimes rather than on the crimes themselves. In this respect, Ms. Leon ha modeled herself after the novels of George Simenon and his police commissioner Maigret. As w
Joyce Lagow
First in the Commisario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice, Italy.[return][return]At La Fenice, Venice s renowned opera house, the curtain is ready to go up for the final act of Verdi s La Traviata. Everyone is ready and waiting, but the conductor, the world famous Helmut Wellauer, doesn t appear--because he is dead, of cyanide poisoning, in his dressing room.[return][return]Enter Commisario (Chief Inspector) Guido Brunetti, a compassionate, idealistic but realistic Venetian. Aspects of the cas ...more
I enjoyed this book a lot; sat down and read it in a day. As is often the case, I came back to the first book in a series after having read a few of the later ones. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not – but at least I know that I like the later ones. This is indeed the first book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, set in and featuring the city of Venice. But strangely for me, it immediately featured a character (Brett Lynch) who had already featured in one of the subsequent books I ...more
I'm not much of a mystery reader, but I suspect this isn't really of the caliber of an Agatha Christie or Alexander McCall Smith. The writing is stilted as if it had been translated from another language (it hasn't). The characters are fully fleshed out in a way that's nice -- except for our sleuth Commissario Brunetti, who seems oddly unmotivated. His main psychological repertoire involves feeling awkward and wondering about why he's wondering about something. I'm not sure precisely how much of ...more
Maestro Helmut Wellauer is a world-renowned German conductor, who dies during the second intermission of La Traviata at the La Fenice theatre in Venice. While adored for his musical talent, the man is an egotistical bigot, and while nobody seems to dislike him enough to kill him, he is nonetheless dead from cyanide poisoning. Police commissario Guido Brunetti is assigned the case by his overbearing boss, and has to solve the case while considering Wellauer's wife (who is 37 years younger than he ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this, but not as a mystery. Early in, I found that I did not care much about knowing who killed the victim. Like Brunetti, I was much more interested in the people Brunetti encountered as he investigated the murder.
This is a so-so murder mystery. It was loaned to me by someone with whom I work because the detective in this series is located in Venice. Then, both my kid's school principal and my mother recommended I read it for the same reason. Honestly, there are apparently another 20 books in the series and I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would read them. This book, while completely readable, is formulaic, predictable and totally acceptable if you have nothing else, but it certainly isn't ...more
Lou Robinson
This was a book that I picked up on when James pointed me at some "recommended if you like..." PDFs on the Waterstones web site. Recommended for lovers of crime and thrillers.
I wasn't totally bowled over by Death at La Fenice. It seemed to take me a long time to read, which is never a good sign when the print is large and the page numbers not high. But, it was an interesting enough story and a nicely tied up ending. There a lots more Commissario Brunetti books written by Donna Leon, I'll read an
This is the first in the Commissario Brunetti series and it's a nice mystery. A famous conductor dies during an Opera intermission at La Fenice in Venice. He appears to have been poisoned - the investigation begins and I just love the way Leon writes about Venice and the people of the area (customs, mannerisms, etc.) I have been fortunate enough to have visited Venice and hope that I will return one day but for now this was kind of like taking a vacation . . . and for that alone I recommend the ...more
Some cities seep right into your head and inhabit your dreams. So it is with me and Venice. Lately I’ve really wanted to go back but don’t have the wherewithal to simply hop on a plane on a whim. So instead, I decided I would do the next best thing and do a bit of armchair traveling. Choices abound here: historical fiction, travel writing, fantasy, there are all types of books set in Venice. But I think one of the best ways to literarily experience a city and its inhabitants is to find a good my ...more
I liked this novel very much and would have given it five stars had I not just dropped a Cara Black novel and wondered whether I liked Death at La Fenice so much more because of the mediocrity of the previous book. But I really enjoyed the setting, the way Donna Leon does not use too many picturesque Italian words, just what is necessary. A good plot although I had guessed the dénouement well before the end. I am looking forward to reading another Commissario Brunetti enquiry.
Die Beliebtheit dieses Buches und der Autorin ist mir schlicht unbegreiflich.
Ich fand das Buch schrecklich langweilig. Die Geschichte ist vollgestopft mit Szenen und Beobachtungen, die mit der eigentlichen Handlung und dem Kriminalfall überhaupt nichts zu tun haben. Beispielsweise wird der Schauplatz zu Beginn jeder Szene in ermüdendem Umfang beschrieben. Immer wieder gibt es Szenen aus dem Privatleben des ermittelnden Kommissars, die die Haupthandlung überhaupt nicht voranbringen (zum Beispiel
Donna Leon weaves a masterful tale in this whodunit set in Italy. She paints a vivid picture of the places and people in her book, such that you can visualize each scene as if you were watching a movie. Numerous details and clues are interwoven so seamlessly that the outcome remains a mystery until the end. A must-read mystery for fans who appreciate a challenge.
Florence Millo
I enjoyed this mystery. (One thing I appreciated about it was its length. 270 pages is about right IMHO. Too often today authors write by the pound with little to justify the length.) It was well written and the characters well developed. I can see Commissario Brunetti in my future reading.
Ivis Bohlen
This appeared on my shared Kindle and I was so pleased--I wanted to read it because of the opera connection and was happy to learn (after I read it) that it was the first in the series. This explains the introduction of Brunetti and his family, his way of working as a police commissioner (detective), his comrades, and Venice itself as a major part of the story. I've been to Venice only once, in 1968, and it makes me sad to think how much it's changed since then!

I hope to read more of these--but
I was wanted to start a new police procedural series and after doing some research decided to begin the Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leon. The ratings were high on Goodreads and Lj, an avid police procedural reader I follow, rated a number of books in the series quite highly.

One of my series’ criteria was to have an interesting central character. In a long running series, I want the police officer solving the crime to have a lot of depth, both personal strengths and foibles and to be ver
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Starting From The Top 11 92 Nov 25, 2013 03:02PM  
The Mystery, Crim...: Nov/Dec Group Discussion: Death at La Fenice 72 280 Dec 22, 2012 01:56AM  
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Donna Leon (born September 29, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey) is an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice and featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti.

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over twenty-five years. She has worked as a lecturer in English Literature for the University of Maryland University College - Europe (UMUC-Europe) in Italy, then as a Professor
More about Donna Leon...

Other Books in the Series

Commissario Brunetti (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • Death in a Strange Country (Commissario Brunetti, #2)
  • Dressed for Death (Commissario Brunetti, #3)
  • Death and Judgment (Commissario Brunetti, #4)
  • Acqua Alta (Commissario Brunetti, #5)
  • Quietly in Their Sleep (Commissario Brunetti, #6)
  • A Noble Radiance (Commissario Brunetti, #7)
  • Fatal Remedies (Commissario Brunetti, #8)
  • Friends in High Places (Commissario Brunetti, #9)
  • A Sea of Troubles (Commissario Brunetti, #10)
  • Wilful Behaviour (Commissario Brunetti, #11)

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“His clothing marked him as Italian. The cadence of his speech announced that he was Venetian. His eyes were all policeman.” 3 likes
“Though everyone in the bar knew who he was, no one asked him about the death, though one old man did rustle his newspaper suggestively.” 2 likes
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