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Willful Behavior: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

(Commissario Brunetti #11)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  5,620 ratings  ·  454 reviews
From the acclaimed author of The Waters of Eternal Youth, Commissario Guido Brunetti dredges up dark secrets from Italy's anti-Semitic past in his captivating eleventh case.

Mystery lovers everywhere are addicted to Donna Leon's ever-honorable Commissario Guido Brunetti and her portrayal of Venice's beautiful but sinister byways and canals. In Willful Behavior, Brunetti
Audiobook, unabridged, 7 pages
Published November 3rd 2011 by Blackstone Audio (first published 2002)
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Alex is The Romance Fox
Willful Behavior, (Commissario Brunetti Series #11 by Donna Leon) takes us along with Guido Brunetti as he delves into buried secrets dating back to WW2 - Nazi collaboration, Italy's Anti -Semitic past, the exploitation of Italian Jews during that period, something that a lot of people are prepared to kill to keep it buried.

Once again, we watch Brunetti using his connections to help solve the murders of one of his wife Paola's students and the owner of an extraordinary art collection. His abili
Gisela Hafezparast
One of the better one of the series (although I like them all). As always the crime story is not the most interesting part about this book and like most of them the actual solving of the crime is a bit banal. It's the insight into Italy, it's culture, changing life style, politics and "system" which is fascinating. When I read these books, the paradoxical, frustrating and then again, enchanting, Italian-way-of-life/survival makes me shake my head continuously and go "What, how can you live with ...more
Now that I've read 2/3rds of all the Brunetti series published before 2016, I have a good idea of what the pace, style, depth maintains for this bunch. There are times Donna Leon scales the heights in her insight and ability to peel down and more. Especially in those moments when Guido resounds within echoing thoughts his joy and gratitude of what he knows he holds. In this one, I got some of that, but much less than in the more recent volumes in the series. This is more toward "the front" and a ...more
Karl Jorgenson
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Donna Leon is a special treat. Her Commissario Brunetti series puts us inside the culture of Venice: travel by vaperetto, disdain of tourism, gourmet food at every meal, espresso four times per day, wine with every meal and snack, and the rampant corruption at every level of government, from the police, to taxes, building permits, and even museums and art. Everybody is running a scam and everybody accepts this as part of life in the city. Brunetti manages to do his job, in spite of the c ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written before the writer started to decline in the series. A very good read.
This is my favorite Brunetti book yet! The mystery is actually compelling (for once), and the tangled history of Venice during World War II really worked for me. It added complex layers to many of the characters that have been around for 11 books at this point, especially Count Falier: the conversation between Brunetti and Falier is possibly the most sincerely gut-wrenching scene Donna Leon has ever written. At the same time, this book is full of one-liners that made me laugh out loud. The combi ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like others in the Commissario Brunetti series, the murder isn't always an obvious figure. This isn't a spoiler, because there are lots of characters who are not the obvious culprits. This book describes corruption in even more detail than earlier ones, and deals with the aftermath of World War II and the effect of Italy's participation (both as Axis and then Ally) on generations both immediately after the war and later generations. And we get to learn a bit more about Paola's father's history, ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Madonna had saved the country from plague, and now there was a church. The Americans had saved the country from the Germans, and now there was McDonald's".

There is a timeless, meditative quality to Donna Leon's writing, the idea that history never fully resolves because human beings are a flawed and doomed species. And yet, there are characters who are good, kind, and ethical. The author maintains a delicate balance in the way she develops her characters, and this helped to keep me engaged
Pamela Mclaren
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Commissario Brunetti is drawn back into time to World War II and the disappearance and reappearance of stolen artwork when one of his wife's students begins to ask about a possible pardon for a crime committed by her grandfather during that era. Before too long, the young woman is stabbed to death and Brunetti finds himself seeking answers to who she was, who was her family and what is it about her and her family that got her killed.

Donna Leon has once created a solid story, a mystery that draws
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Paola's university students asks her a legal question seeking the advice of Paola's husband Commissario Guido Brunetti, a former law student. The question involves a man who died while serving a sentence in a mental institution for a conviction during the World War II years. While Brunetti doubts a modern trial would produce a different result, when the girl turns up dead, he knows her questions probably resulted in her murder. They mystery involves art in a private collection and a somew ...more
Carolyn Fagan
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just loving this series. Love the familial relationships of the Brunetti family and the relationships of Guido with Vianello and Signorina Elettra. Reading each one just gets better and better!
Chris Nickson
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've long been a fan of Donna Leon, not just for the way she makes Venice such a lively, tactile place, but also for Brunetti, his family and colleagues. But in this book she's outdone herself. A story that starts simply and becomes labyrinthine. There's family and history, Venice and Italy, greed and lust and twisting around each other. And at the core, family and innocence betrayed, love and hate. To my taste, this is Leon at her very best, moving and affecting, yet also majestic. There's the ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is masterful. Again, it revolves around art, art collecting and agents, but ranges far beyond to the fate of Venetian-owned masterpieces during the second world war and those who "disposed" of them. Literature plays a large role as well...Paola's teaching and Guido's policing flow in parallel streams of frustration. It's satisfying to learn more about the character of Paola's father and, in Guido's friend Lele's memories, into Guido's father as well. Characters formed in the war, for be ...more
Carol Evans
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, read-in-2019
I don’t read the Commissario Guido Brunetti series in order. I jump around depending on what’s available at the library. The series is currently at 28, so Willful Behavior is toward the middle.

Paola, Guido’s wife, brings the case to his attention. One of her students has a question about receiving a pardon for her dead grandfather. She doesn’t provide many clues, just enough to make Brunetti curious. And then she ends up dead, killed.

This time the mystery involves events from World War II and Gu
Claudia Leonardo is a student of English Literature at the university in Venice where Paolo Brunetti teaches. In class, Claudia is a very quiet young woman, seldom speaking, but the work that she presents to Professor Brunetti is exemplary. She shows an extraordinary understanding of the material and a particular admiration for Paolo's own literary hero, Henry James.

Paolo surmises that anyone with such an appreciation of James must be extremely intelligent. Thus, when Claudia lingers after clas
Aug 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Brunetti book I've read and there is a definite pattern here; albeit one I was warned of -- that however the case gets wrapped up, absolute justice is never done. In fact, the only justice which seems to regularly operate successfully is a sentimental kind. Not 'poetic', because that implies that the actual perpetrators are punished, and it never seems lik they are. However, the reader's feelings are soothed by the end of the book by pieces of providential good fortune that hap ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, italy
Commissario Brunetti's wife Paola is approached by one of her students with a question - is there a way for someone convicted of a crime to get a posthumous pardon? She speaks to Brunetti and admits it is about her grandfather, and he voices his opinion that he does not believe a pardon is possible. But later she is found stabbed to death in her apartment, and Brunetti's investigation into her grandfather uncovers a tale of Nazi collaboration and acquisition of art from desperate German Jews dur ...more
William Brown
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found a new author! That is always a delightful time when you try a book by a writer you may be dimly aware of and find a really good book inside those covers. In this case Donna Leon, an American who has lived in Venice for many years and written 20-some mysteries featuring Detective "Commissario" Guido Brunetti and the marvelous city Venice, where everything is political and the usual enemy is the bureaucracy. In this case, the story centers around Italy's dark wartime, a period that few wan ...more
Michael Tweed
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always a delight to read a book by Donna Leon.
Dianne Landry
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guido-brunetti
Once again, Guido does not disappoint.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy all of Donna Leon's books, but this one was of particular interest to me. The introspective Commissario Brunetti was engrossed in a case that went far beyond murder. The crime led to a treasure trove of Nazi-era lost art and the story took us in to the politics and morality surrounding the sale or "disposal" of art by wealthy famiies trying to escape oppression or death.

The thought-provoking investigation never felt tedious and Brunetti's emotional reaction to the case was unusual for hi
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is less of a detective story than a comment on contemporary Italian society.

Commissario Brunetti is a cop with a difference; he has a normal family life: a professional wife who likes to cook, two gregarious teenage children, and he eats at regular mealtimes, even coming home for lunch. This part is refreshing from the stereotypical coffee-guzzling, sleep deprived, divorced North American (or Swedish) cop who guzzles pizza and burgers whenever hunger calls, but who always gets his mur
WILFUL BEHAVIOUR (Pol. Prod.-Ins. Guido Brunetti-Venice, Italy-Cont) - Ex
Leon, Donna – 11th in series
Arrow Books, 2003, UK Paperback – ISBN: 9780099415183

First Sentence: The explosion came at breakfast.

A student of Insp. Guido Brunetti’s wife, Paola, visits him inquiring whether someone who had been convicted of a crime and is now dead could be officially cleared if shown innocent. Brunetti is not given enough information initially, but the question peaks his interest. When the student, Claudia
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Yes, it's a mystery novel, but Leon's books are so much more. Reflections on life, man's inhumanity to man, how the past never goes away, fascism, anti-Semitism, and more, swirl around the story in a most thought-engaging way. Another winner from this author.
Commissario Brunetti is introduced to a young student of his wife's, who asks if he can help obtain a pardon for her deceased grandfather. To say that man had a shady reputation is being kind, but suddenly young Claudia is murdered, and it s
Elizabeth Fagin
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really been enjoying this series featuring Commisario Guido Brunetti, set in modern day Venice. The characters are great and the sense of place is wonderful. I was disappointed in the last one (#10) because the sub plot threw a monkey wrench into the relationship between Guido and his wife. Which upset me. I do tend to get over-involved wth the characters in books.

However in this one (#11), every thing is back to normal in the Brunetti household and I could go back to enjoying the story.
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-read
I am going to do this review in two parts one for the book and one for the audio edition.

The book is another thoughtful addition to the Commissario Guido Brunetti series.There is always a mix of mystery, ethics and politics that are blended together to make it an engaging series with a mix of both thoughtful characters and inept impediments to solutions and progress. I enjoyed the book quite a bit and would recommend it.

This was an audio "read" for me as has been most of the series. They are p
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#11 Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery set in Venice, Italy. One of Guido's wife Paola's university students asks her if she can talk to Guido about a person being pardoned for a crime committed years previously, but asks in such vague terms that Guido tells Paola to have the girl speak to him directly. She does, and from what she tells him, gleans some clues to figure out who she's speaking about and starts inquiring among his older friends about the man he believes to be her grandfather, and h ...more
Susan Hirtz
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was eminently enjoyable, not only in its descriptions of Venice, where Donna Leon excels, but in its plot twists and turns. Her language encapsulates beautifully, leaving the reader within the mind of her main character, Guido Brunetti, Commissario of Police, aware of his personal flaws, yet always forgiving of this humane and sensitive man.

She begins, as she usually does, with an ordinary situation rapidly becoming an unusual one. It leads us through Brunetti's involvement, his motive
Robert Muller
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With this book in the Brunetti series, Leon has taken a major step forward as a writer. After the thriller Sea of Troubles, which was beautifully written if a bit difficult to believe, Leon has moved to a much higher level of character development and writing. Her use of point of view alone is worth the price of the book, and reminds me very much of Jane Austen. The plot in this mystery takes second place to the characters, and the Venetian scene nearly disappears aside from the references to ch ...more
Neil Plakcy
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love these books -- they are slow and almost contemplative, such a difference from the standard crime novel where a body is dropped in the first chapter. These books are as much about Commissario Brunetti and about Venice as they are about the crime. It was fascinating to read this one, in which the actions of folks in WW II are still haunting the present.
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Play Book Tag: Wilful Behavior by Donna Leon - 4 stars 1 11 Jun 07, 2018 09:24AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Commissario Brunetti (1 - 10 of 30 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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