Gerald Sinstadt's Reviews > A Sea of Troubles

A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon
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's review
Sep 03, 2011

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bookshelves: crime
Read from September 03 to 14, 2011

Unthinkable that one might consider giving Donna Leon less than three stars for renewing our acquaintance with Commissario Brunetti, but the temptation had to be resisted. No reason why the author should not disturb our expectation but to do so with as dark a novel as A Sea of Troubles was brave.

Here, murders in a close-knit, closed-mouth community on a distant island in the lagoon challenge the Commissario's ingenuity; guidance eventually emerges via a technological trick that needs to be glossed over quickly, before the reader starts to wonder. The pursuit and capture occupy rather more storm-tossed pages than seemed really necessary; there are elements of suspense but the genre demands that the culprit must be caught.

So why the equivocation? The problem is the emergence of the secretary, Elettra (who has been instrumental in solving earlier mysteries without leaving her computer), to assume the role of a fully-committed protagonist. And there goes the highly intelligent, slightly aloof amanuensis with a nicely understated sense of humour. Will she return to normal duty in the next episode? One can only hope.

As for the Brunetti family, the children's involvement with examinations retire them to the background, leaving us with Guido's relationship with Paola in which love underpins disagreement. Not the best of Leon but not negligible either.

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