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Unto Us a Son Is Given

(Commissario Brunetti #28)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  7,191 ratings  ·  766 reviews
"Your situation is always ambiguous, isn't it, Guido?," his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier, observes of Donna Leon's soulful detective, Guido Brunetti, at the beginning of her superb 28th Brunetti novel, Unto Us A Son Is Given. "The world we live in makes that necessary," Brunetti presciently replies. Count Falier was urging his Venetian son-in-law to investigate, and ...more
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Marisa Wright It could stand alone, but if you've never read a Brunetti novel before, I would STRONGLY recommend you don't start with this one. The early novels alw…moreIt could stand alone, but if you've never read a Brunetti novel before, I would STRONGLY recommend you don't start with this one. The early novels always have an intriguing case for Brunetti to solve AND a wonderful picture of Venice and of Brunetti and his family/colleagues. The most recent novels, including this one, don't have much of a plot - they're all about the characters and the sad decline of Venice. Which works if you're already in love with the characters, but is probably a bit unsatisfying if you dont know them. (less)
Constance An interesting section where the author imagines that someone across the street (or canal) is looking out of a window and seeing Brunetti at work. Wha…moreAn interesting section where the author imagines that someone across the street (or canal) is looking out of a window and seeing Brunetti at work. What does he/she see? A robust man...etc... (less)
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Andrew Smith
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
When is a crime fiction novel not a crime fiction novel? When there’s no crime, of course. Well, like this book. Except finally a crime is revealed after nearly three quarters of the story has been told. Is this a problem? Not in the least, such is the nature of this series that the crime itself is often a side issue, the main focus being a broader theme affecting the inhabitants of Venice. The star of the show is Guido Brunetti, a senior police officer in the city. Correction – the star is real ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cozy mystery fans
4 stars.
Another pleasant addition to the Guido Brunetti series. He is asked to privately investigate a companion of an old friend by Guido's father in law. There is a murder and a long buried secret. There is only one murder and little violence. I recommend this book to Donna Leon/cozy mystery fans.
One quote: "Like most Venetians, he was accustomed to swimming in the swirling froth of information and misinformation that flowed through so much of daily life;..."
Thanks to Grove Atlantic for sendin
Roman Clodia
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you come to this wanting primarily a crime novel then you might well be disappointed - someone is killed, but you'll have to wait till about 60% of the way through the book for that to happen. For those of us, though, who enjoy Leon's depiction of characters and relationships that won't be a problem.

I'd say that this is a book which thinks about the question of family: what makes one, what happens when someone tries to artificially create one, what bonds tie people together making them a kind
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I guess I am different from some readers who may complain that the mystery enters late in the book and the suspect can be guessed, thought not the reasons....but then I never read the Brunetti books for the mystery. I read them for the people and Brunetti himself, and the love he has for his Venice and his colleagues and his family. I read it for his saddened but always a little hopeful view of life, and the glasses of wine with his wife, and the light fading over the canal. I want to be in that ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every bit as good as expected. Favorite quote:
"'Ah,' was all Brunetti managed to say. Like a dog jumping up to protect the home at the sound of the doorbell, his conversational feet slipped repeatedly on the polished marble floor of his mind, scratching back and forth, finding no purchase."
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars and one of her best. Can it be true that the last 10 out of 28 are actually getting BETTER? And all the way to superb.

So why didn't I give it a five? I had to wait 1/2 a day to convince myself- because it's truly almost there. The length, for instance, is perfection. (How few, few can write a book without verbosity any longer, and no more so than in fiction and some within this exact genre of series.) Perhaps, it is because the depth of these characters to each other! Yet they are so
Michael Romo
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I recently saw some negative reviews here for this series. The complaints were mainly concerned with, "this is not a police procedural" and/or "not a whodunit". In my opinion based on having read all of the Commissario Brunetti series, these books are meant to be the furthest thing from those two criticisms. This series, for me, is mainly about the characters and how they interact with each other. It is also about the Venice of today and how the city and venetians grapple with the problematic is ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a lovely addition to the Guido Brunetti series but it's a stretch to call it a mystery novel. The crime does not even happen until the book is more than half the way through. The killer was obvious although the reasoning was interesting. I was surprised at the background details but the actual crime was no surprise at all.

I do enjoy the setting though. How romantic is Venice? I love people catching boats to get around. I love the differing ways of viewing life. I love the culture. The
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
Unto Us a Son Is Given by Donna Leon is the 28th in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series but it easily reads as a standalone. Beautiful Venice is as much a part of this novel as Brunetti himself. Guido is approached by his father-in-law in the hope that he will discourage their mutual friend Gonzalo in his endeavour to adopt a much younger man as his son. The inheritance laws in Italy permit that this adoptee can then become heir to Gonzalo's entire fortune in the event of the old man's death. ...more
Alex Cantone
‘Lots of us have different spheres of friends, and many of them never meet the other set, sometimes don’t even know about them…it’s one of the reasons funerals are so interesting: you see people show up you’d never expect to see there. It’s as if the dead person had lived in two separate worlds. Or three.’

The story opens with Brunetti’s father-in-law, the Conti Falier, expressing concern for his best friend, the Spaniard Gonzalo who has lived in Venice for many years and who is the Godfather to
Laura/Mystery in Minutes
Thought-provoking, and with a wonderful sense of place, prolific author Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series is set in and around Venice, Italy. Her books have been adapted into a German television series, and have won numerous international awards. In a very thoughtful way, they often gently explore topics pertaining to cronyism, nepotism, abuses of power, and environmental concerns. Interestingly, Leon, an American who has lived in Italy for decades, and whose novels have been published in ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Compulsively readable with an unassuming, graceful prose...

The exotic Venetian settings and Commissario Guido Brunetti’s old-school investigative methods are very charming, but it is the character-driven narrative that makes Donna Leon’s Brunetti series highly addictive. In this 28th Brunetti novel, Brunetti is urged by his father-in-law Count Falier to investigate the seemingly innocent plan of his best friend Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejada’s adoption of an adult male as his son. Despite his reluc
Lynn Horton
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm between three and four stars on this Leon book, and I love her work. Brunetti is one of my favorite fictional characters; she's developed him beautifully, and he never disappoints. I also appreciate his wife, Paola, and his family life. Actually, every single Leon character is just magnificent, and her depiction of Venice is a mini-vacation to one of my favorite places.

I'm wavering between three and four stars for one major reason, though: the storyline. The killer was obvious to me very ear
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Another Goodreads reviewer put it very well--if you're looking for a cracking good mystery, this isn't it; if you're looking for a beautiful evocation of Venice and the people who live there, this is on the same high level as Leon's other books. I've greatly admired most of them, but this one didn't really add much (other than to outline Venice's laws of inheritance). And the murder was late, the murderer obvious, the solution perfunctory. ...more
Diane Standish
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never want her books to end
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
This story didn't stick to me at all. Slow and not particularly interesting. . . .and I love mysteries. Go figure. Moving on. ...more
Ray Palen
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the twenty-eighth novel in Donna Leon's best-selling mystery series, the apparent indiscretion of an elderly family friend involves a reluctant Commissario Guido Brunetti...until the sudden natural death of his friend sets in motion a murder. (Release 3/19)

Each Donna Leon novel I read is a gift. That being said, Leon has blessed me now with the gift of 28 novels in the terrific Commissario Guido Brunetti series. This recurring set of novels may very well be the finest and most humane in all o
I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Opening lines:
"Your situation is always ambiguous, isn't it, Guido?", his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier.

If you are expecting to read a suspense-thriller book from the beginning you might be disappointed. On the other hand, the writer just provides us a daily-life of Commissario Brunetti with a good sense of humour which is quite peculiar to Italian people.

About the plot: Count Falier w
First Sentence: "You know I don't like to meddle in things," Conte Falier told Brunetti.

Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejada is a wealthy, titled man who has announced his intention to adopt a much younger man to be his son and heir. Conte Falier, father-in-law to Comm. Guido Brunetti, is concerned about his elderly friend, and asks Guido if he could look into the situation. With the aid of colleagues and contacts, Guido fears things may not be as straightforward they seem.

The theme of family is centr
A Venetian treat!

A brilliant, yet understated performance by Guido Brunetti, offset by his reading of The Trojan Women which seem to act as a reflective prompt for Guido all the way through.
Along the way we are treated to an insight into Venetian culture and practices. I love it!
Paolo's godfather, Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejada, and a longtime family friend wants to adopt a younger man as his son. His friends, including Guido's father-in-law Count Orazio Falier, are shocked and try to dissuade him
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may just have to back up and start over at page one to spend more time with Commissario Guido Brunetti. He is given a task in this book, first by his father-in-law and then forced by his job to learn more about plans of a family friend to adopt a young man. Things end badly.
Beyond what results in a murder investigation, other benefits we are granted in spending time with Guido and his family are finding examples of a loving, respectful relationship between Guido and his wife, a walking tour of
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I usually enjoy Donna Leon’s Police Commissario Brunetti’s novels. They always provide me with a look at life in Venice through the eyes of an an unusual police official. Leon’s Commissario is a well-read man of the classics, happily married to very wealthy and connected wife, who appears to be a great cook. All the usual characters make an appearance and there is a good deal of quiet, soft humor poked at authority and elsewhere. There are also some really interesting thoughts; “taking a look at ...more
Alan Teder
Brunetti Investigates Inheritance
Review of the Atlantic Monthly Press hardcover edition (March 2019)

"View of the Grand Canal Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana from Campo Santa Maria Zobenigo" (c. 1743) painted by Bernardo Bellotto (1722-1780). Image sourced from LitHub

Unto Us a Son is Given is only my 2nd ever Donna Leon / Commissario Brunetti read after being introduced to the series earlier this year via Transient Desires. It is probably not the best idea to read these in reverse order a
Barbara Nutting
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read all the books in this series and #28 was as good as #1 - Guido is just a nice guy. Still love Elettra, Paola and even the kids. Wholesome and well written. A nice change from the usual detective stories.

I enjoyed that this story touched on two themes I had just read about, Greek mythology and Chile/Allende/Pinochet!

These books always made me want to jump on a plane to Venice - not now with the Coronavirus. She could write a great book with that as the theme. She always complains abou
Brent Soderstrum
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the 28th Commissario Brunetti mystery novel by Leon. This one has no mystery though. Once the murder does take place, about 60% of the way through, everyone knows who the killer is. The only question that remains is why. I guess the why is the mystery but it just doesn't do it for me. I expected more from Leon.

This series has gone downhill in the last 10 books or so. I remember the early books of the series gave you a glimpse of Venice and a mystery that Brunetti would solve. Now both h
Bill Hobbs
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leon’s series continues, unabated!
It’s book No. 28 in her Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series and Donna Leon does not disappoint in Unto Us a Son Is Given.
In this episode, Guido receives a request from his father-in-law, Count Falier, to “do something” about his friend Gonzalo, nearing the end of his life, very rich, and is about to adopt a young man as his son so that he can inherit Gonzalo's vast fortune (the inheritance laws in Italy are quite different from ours: when the head of hou
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I read this book at the behest of my mother, who thought it was amazing. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, and obviously book 28 is not the ideal place to start, so I gave this book an extra star (for me, it deserved two stars) because I know I am at least part of the problem here.

But, okay. This isn’t actually a mystery. A lonely older gay man dies halfway through, but he isn’t murdered, and a murder does actually take place two-thirds of the way through the book, but it’s i
Melissa Dee
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite things about Italians is the high standards they hold, and their willingness to lower those standards in the inevitable face of reality. But there are limits…. There are always limits.

Brunetti is back! and he is investigating several deaths revolving around an old friend of his father-in-law. The investigation is complicated by his relationship to the first dead man, and to his father-in-law himself.
It has been a real delight to follow this series from the beginning, and to w
"How strange, Brunetti reflected: we choose to love people despite their flaws and weaknesses. We train ourselves to overlook or ignore them; sometimes these failures of character even fill us with a special kind of tenderness that has nothing whatsoever in it of a sense of superiority."

This is the 28th book in the Commissario Brunetti series. So we are quite familiar with Guido Brunetti already. We know his family and colleagues. And it is comforting to be back in Venice with him. In this book
Ivor Armistead
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perhaps not quite four stars, but close. Aging, loneliness and the need to feel loved can produce bad decisions and the refusal to heed the warnings of the people who care for you most. It did in “Unto us a Son is Born.” Less a detective story than an novel that explores complex emotions and relationships, but that’s OK. It’s a good read and a few hours with Brunetti and his family is always time well spent.
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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 44 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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