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Through a Glass, Darkly (Commissario Brunetti #15)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,744 Ratings  ·  260 Reviews
Donna Leon opens doors to the hidden Venice like no one else. With her latest novel, Through a Glass, Darkly, Leon takes us inside the secretive island of Murano, home of the world-famous glass factories. On a luminous spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant Vianello play hooky from the Questura in order to help Vianello's friend Marco Ribetti, arreste ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 27th 2006 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2003)
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Books Set in Venice
46th out of 218 books — 179 voters
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Book Titles Based on Lines from the Bible
22nd out of 186 books — 55 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 08, 2010 Madeline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I've read something that gave me the opportunity to write a truly scathing review here. So if nothing else, I guess I should thank Donna Leon for writing this horribly ill-conceived addition to the Guido Brunetti series, and thereby giving me ample material to rake this book over the coals.

This is my third Leon mystery, which I guess is a good thing: if this were the first Brunetti story I'd read, it would be enough to convince me that I should never pick up anything Don
Carol Crawford
Aug 22, 2007 Carol Crawford rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of Venice & "subtle mysteries"
Shelves: mystery
I am hooked on Leon's series. Why? Her characters, and the powerfully visual way she evokes her environment. Commissario Brunetti , like all central detective characters, sets the tone of her works. He is human, humane, leads a normal home life, hates guns and violence, loves where he lives and deplores, like New Yorkers, the negative changes in his world and the onslaught of tourists. But most of all, he has an Italian "che sera, sera"...many of these mysteries are not resolved in favor of just ...more
Donna Leon writes lushly about a Venice in regal decay, with the urbane and likable Commissario Guido Brunetti as her main character, yet it was not until 158 pages in (halfway through the novel) that the crime the good detective was supposed to investigate even occurred. This, I think, encapsulates everything I found frustrating about Through a Glass, Darkly.

I waffled between giving this book 3 or 2 stars on Goodreads because it really wasn’t an awful book. But as a mystery, it completely reneg
May 29, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it
One of the things, of many things, I like about Donna Leon's series with Commissario Brunetti is the wonderful family parts of the stories. Brunetti's wife is intelligent and passionate about her beliefs which are sometimes at odds with her husband's. The children are smart and articulate. And the food is mouth watering. Another thing is the stories are always thought provoking. The main theme of Through a Glass Darkly is pollution and the environment. There is a murder that needs to be solved a ...more
Jun 16, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
As I gambol through Donna Leon's series I realize what an admirable friend the would make. After every disappointing novel, I seem to seek out one of her books because I enjoy spending time with them, so I realized how much I would like her at my dinner table.

She clearly enjoys a few drinks and a good meal;

She has an appreciation for subtle moral dilemmas and seems willing to ponder them;

She clearly has a sense of humor (witness Signorina Elettra); and

She has an interesting smattering of knowled
Jun 11, 2016 Shari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange doings at the Murano glass works and it is all bound up in environmental issues. Is Murano polluting the air, the Laguna, the ground, like the industrial center of Marghera on the mainland is known to do? An outspoken night watchman at the Murano 'fornaci' claims just this and that it is because of this ongoing pollution that his body has been affected and his daughter was born seriously impaired. Then suddenly he dies alone one night at work.

Brunetti and his team are brought into this b
Maria João Fernandes
"Tal como Brunetti, ela achava que os livros funcionavam como um espelho da pessoa que os acumulava."

Donna Leon tem uma característica que me agrada imenso: em cada livro do Comissário Guido Brunetti explora uma parte diferente de Veneza, através de um crime sem igual e apresentando uma investigação única. A diversidade dos seus crimes podem não agradar de igual forma a uma mesma pessoa, porque são de facto muito diferentes, mas a verdade é que aprendemos muito sobre a forma de viver dos venezia
Marina Maidou
Donna Leon is not an Agatha Christi's style writer. You won't find an explanation at the end by the great detective to the crowd of innocents and guilties. Her books have an allusive style and you must try hard to find the crime and the guilty. This one was the most allusive book I ever read. Even the title is a hind (it comes from Bible) and it shows that whole the book is a hind (the greek title as Requiem for the Glass Town, has a more poetic style). A crime in Murano island which is given af ...more
Pat Hansbury
Oct 23, 2009 Pat Hansbury rated it really liked it
Since I returned from Venice, I have three of the Guido Brunetti books. They are not great. Very light. But, Venice is the real star of the books. It is so much fun reading how Guido hops on and off the same boats I just took in Venice. In this book, he talks about eating at the same restaurant by the Grand Canal near Rialto Bridge where we ate our last night in Venice. So, they are light and fun.
Aug 07, 2010 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have now read six of these mysteries. They are among the finest mystery novels I have ever read, sparkling with intelligence as well as a sensitive understanding of human nature and a thoroughly dark view of politics and government. Commissario Brunetti stands out as a sterling example of one man retaining his humanity amidst the chaos.
Jane Greensmith
Apr 19, 2015 Jane Greensmith rated it really liked it
As always this was a very enjoyable novel. Honestly, I don't read them for the mystery--I read them for the characters, the scenes in Venice, the food, and the human interest.
Howard Cincotta
Jun 19, 2015 Howard Cincotta rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I like a man who has his priorities straight. In this installment of the Guido Brunetti mystery series, our Venetian detective focuses on food and his beloved if declining city before solving the mystery of a death on the island of Murano, famous for glassmaking.

Author Donna Leon has clearly done her homework, with vivid and often detailed accounts of the glassmaking process at the fornaci on Murano. But first we need to eat. Lasagna with artichokes and thinly sliced ham for lunch at home, coffe
Dana Clinton
Jun 13, 2015 Dana Clinton rated it really liked it
The 15th book in the Inspector Brunetti series, and I have liked them all! Francophile that I am, I am beginning to wish I had time to experience all the wonderful cuisine in these tales; dinner time in the Brunetti household is what most of us dream it will be, with everyone enjoying and the food all home made. Hmmm... anyway, the mystery is quite satisfying because, unlike some of the other recent ones, it ends in such a way that one feels the guilty party is actually going to be caught. We ar ...more
Dec 24, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2012
I still can't decide if I like the Brunetti series, after reading about half of them.
They are pretty constant in style and quality, and all of them have the same good points (interesting location, interesting and usually not pleasant characters) and less than good points (the intense hatred of everyone Sicilian or Sardinian, in every single book, every single time Brunetti talks to his rather racistically, by a northern Italian's eyes, boss, Patta, and every time there is ever anyone from Sicil
Kat Hagedorn
Mar 09, 2010 Kat Hagedorn rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, mystery

The title is from the Bible and implies that humans have a less that perfect perception of reality.

I can't think of a better title for this Guido Brunetti novel, which grapples with unambiguously moral and ethical issues mostly having to do with the environment of Venice. Leon's mysteries have always been set in Venice, and often touch on the sticky problems surrounding the polluting of the lagoon, the crumbling of the edifices and the navigation of Italian bureaucracy.
Ed Mestre
Jun 09, 2014 Ed Mestre rated it liked it
Picked this book up at a library sale a few years ago, but despite looking like a quick read I just couldn't get into this detective story in Venice, Italy. Well, since I went to Italy last April & fell in love with Venice I decided to pick up again. Suddenly it was captivating as i recognized places & terms & even the number of the water bus I would catch near my hotel. I'm not saying you have to have been to Venice to enjoy this nifty little murder mystery with its well drawn chara ...more
Catherine Woodman
Jul 29, 2011 Catherine Woodman rated it really liked it
This novel is set during Spring in Venice; and much of the mystery (and of course in every mystery there is a dead body) occurs on the island of Murano which is known for its glassmaking. Leon combines detailed research on Venetian glass making with a social discourse on the effects of pollution on the Venice lagoon by the industries that border it including Marghera.

Brunetti's boss is still as insipid as he always has been (Vice Questore Patta) and is continually looking for other positions wh
Feb 11, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it
The 15th book in the Commissario Brunetti series continues the trend of the previous 14...well written and engaging. Leon is a master at writing about subtle murders that take place among practical events in an unjust world. Her narrative is always bang on and the characters are always brought to life. By now Brunetti is like a friend to me...and Venice a city that I feel I could navigate without ever having been there. Reading a Donna Leon book is always like reading a special treat among the o ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
If I were going on vacation to my favorite place in Cancun, Mexico, I would bring this read. What delightful mystery. World traveler, Donna Leon, author, is an American of Irish/Spanish descent She went to Italy in 1965. She eventually moved to Venice and still remains there, now over 20 years. I mention this as this information explains her intimate knowledge of Venice. The author takes you by the hand and guide you through this historic magnificent city. In this read, while solving a murder, y ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Trishia rated it really liked it
I have read several of the Donna Leon "mystery" series with Brunetti. I was quite disappointed with "Girl of his Dreams" but another Goodreads reviewer recommended "Through a Glass, Darkly" for Leon fans. And I must say, I did enjoy this one more and it had a more somewhat satisfying ending.
The No. 1 reason, I think, most of Leon's fans love her books, is because of the location. It gives us a few hours to imagine being in Venice, in another world with a different pace, a different approach to l
Apr 26, 2014 Shae rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I don't often wander into the mystery genre, but we read this as a book club and I have to admit I would recommend it to others. Mystery books, this one included, are not very good for book clubs because the discussion is more about plot than topic, but I would recommend this Commissario Guido Brunetti series as a great beach read. It was clean, smart, and real. The crime didn't happen until half way through the book, but the characters were delightful and the Venice, Italy setting interesting.
Apr 02, 2014 Cherie rated it it was amazing
To begin with, I have to confess that I love Venice. So any story that takes place there is likely to please me. Also, I love a good whodunit. Nothing's better for curling up with and relaxing. Still, Donna Leon's stories have something special. Maybe it's her detective, Commissario Brunetti. He's an extremely wise and cool person. A murder mystery's effectiveness depends on the personality of the detective, and Brunetti is extremely simpatico. Maybe it's the way her ripped-from-the-E.U.-headlin ...more
May 06, 2015 Shuriu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paola had said something about lamb that morning, and Brunetti started thinking about the many interesting things that could be done to lamb. With rosemary and black olives or with rosemary and hot chilli peppers. And what was that one that Erizzo liked so much: the stew with balsamico and green beans? Or simply white wine and rosemary -- and why was it that lamb cried out for rosemary more than any other herb? (p. 55-56)
Lamb it was, lamb with balsamic vinegar and green beans. No antipasto and
Feb 15, 2014 Cathy rated it it was ok
I guess I've gotten hooked on Comissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, after all they're set in Venice and as this one opens Brunetti is standing at his window "flirt(ing) with springtime." Having had snow for for the last three months the descriptions of flowers just starting to bud, a kind of ironic beginning to a book filled with issues of pollution.

Here a night watchman in a glass factory dies and issues of dumping, pollution, political corruption take center stage. The pace is slow, and there
Jan C
Jan 11, 2009 Jan C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Donna Leon
Shelves: mystery, italy
I love the corruption of Venice. Or, at least Donna Leon's description of it. I have read a number of the Commissario Guido Brunetti stories and I keep coming back for more.

But what is really interesting in this one is a fairly thorough explanation of the art of blowing glass, Venetian-style. Brunetti is watching the maestri and serventi and his mind casts back to when his father was a serventi and had no hope of ever becoming a maestri.

Julie Whelan
Feb 22, 2009 Julie Whelan rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksread
This Brunetti mystery focuses on the Murano glass industry the culture of the workers and artisans involved. There is also a strong environmental subplot and illegal dumping of toxic byproducts into the lagoon is a major factor in the plot. The Brunetti family are at their most human and appealing and the commisario teams with Paola in solving the case and both struggle with raising adolescent children.
John Owen
Sep 21, 2014 John Owen rated it really liked it
As always with Donna Leon's books about Venetian police detective Guido Brunetti, you come away with a feeling of satisfaction that the mystery was solved, an urge to go out and both hog out on Italian food as well as book a flight to Venice. Leon's hero is a family man, a very Italian family man, with an academic wife and two bright teenage kids. In this book, both wife and daughter help Brunetti solve puzzles left by a glass factory night watchman found dead in front of an open glass furnace. ...more
May 15, 2016 Caryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Classic Brunetti. Loved it.
Aug 14, 2016 Sharyn rated it really liked it
I am still reading through this series. I started to listen to it and by the 5th out of 7 cd's decided to finish by reading the book because I had the DVD waiting. I enjoyed the book as always, and hope that things have changed pollution-wise by the time I get there. The book was written in 2006 and I am going in 2016. I wonder how Italians feel about her books, as they are not presented in the best of lights. But I love Brunetti and his life and walks and boat rides and inner thoughts and am no ...more
Norbert P
Pollution by a glass foundry on Murano is possibly responsible for the handicap of a child of one of the workers. He is collecting evidence to bring his case before the court but his efforts are considered to be merely the conspirations of a madman. One proprietor feels himself harassed by his son in law whom he accuses of stealing his foundry by sneeking into the family bonds and who protests openly against chemical pollution on Murano. Since this man happens to be a friend of commissario Brune ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #1 Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna Leon 1 3 Jan 02, 2015 09:40AM  
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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 at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti, #1)
  • 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)

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