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Commissario Brunetti #6

Quietly in Their Sleep

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A nun has left her convent after a series of suspicious deaths: “Leon’s novels are always a pleasure.” — The Washington Post

In Venice, Italy, Commissario Guido Brunetti comes to the aid of a young Catholic sister, who has left her convent after five of her nursing home patients died unexpectedly. In the course of his inquiries, Brunetti encounters an unusual cast of characters, but discovers nothing that seems criminal. The police detective must determine whether the nun is simply creating a smoke screen to justify abandoning her vocation—or if she has stumbled onto something very real and very sinister that places her own life in imminent danger.

“Leon’s books shimmer in the grace of their setting and are warmed by the charm of their characters.” — The New York Times Book Review

Also published under the title
The Death of Faith **

310 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

Donna Leon

116 books2,332 followers
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 from 1981 to 1999 at the american military base of Vicenza (Italy) and a writer.

Her crime novels are all situated in or near Venice. They are written in English and translated into many foreign languages, although not, by her request, into Italian. Her ninth Brunetti novel, Friends in High Places, won the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger in 2000.

* Commissario Brunetti

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 606 reviews
Profile Image for Alex is The Romance Fox.
1,461 reviews1,079 followers
February 15, 2016
3,5 stars

Commissario Guido Brunetti’s latest “case” in the 6th book in Commissario Brunetti Series by Donna Leon, starts off with a visit to his office by a young woman, who he doesn’t recognize but seems familiar to him, claiming that she suspects that several patients who had died unexpectedly and odd circumstances in the nursing home she had previously worked at. She thinks that their deaths may be related to their fortunes being left to the home and the church and not their heirs.

Without any proof of a crime being committed, Brunetti tells her that he will try to find out more about the home. But when she’s left in a coma after injured by a hit and run car, he decides to investigate and look closer to her allegations.

What he discovers is something more and worse than he had thought.

This story deals with so many issues. The Catholic church, greed, corruption, Opus Dei, the handling of priests who have been found guilty of sexual abuse of children and cover-ups.

I find the author’s views on the dynamics of religion in Italy really interesting. One of the parts in the story , where Brunetti and Paola are discussing Chiara’s school report results and the low marks she obtained for religion instructions, and her feelings about that subject….
“I raised my hand and asked if God was a spirit. And he said yes, He was. So I asked if it was right that a spirit was different from a person because it didn't have a body, wasn't material. And when he agreed, I asked how, if God was a spirit, He could be a man, if He didn't have a body or anything.” Chiara

And how much value we place on material things. Brunetti and Vianello visit one of the deceased patient’s son and heir, who is more interested in what he owns and has inherited than about his dead mother. And this quote is so true in our society….
““We buy things. We wear them or put them on our walls, or sit on them, but anyone who wants to can take them away from us. Or break them.
Long after he's dead, someone else will own those stupid little boxes, and then someone after him, just as someone owned them before he did. But no one ever thinks of that: objects survive us and go on living. It's stupid to believe we own them. And it's sinful for them to be so important.”
What makes this series so special are the characters and the sense of place that is Venice.

An enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Blaine DeSantis.
880 reviews102 followers
July 20, 2021
Each and every book by Donna Leon in her Commissario Brunetti explores another aspect of the greed and corruption that has become almost 2nd nature in the Brunetti's world. This time Leon takes a direct aim at the Catholic Church, and even gets the secretive organization Opus Dei into the plot.
The book begins with Brunetti actually in charge of the police station as his boss, Vice-Questore Patta is on vacation. Not much is happening, crime seems to have also taken a break until one day a young lady barges her way into Brunetti's office. She looks familiar, and yet he cannot place her. She knows him and her name is Maria Testa. Who is she, we finally find out she used to be Sister Immaculato who cared for Brunetti's mother in the nursing home. But Maria Testa has left the order and now tells Brunetti a story of how patients at the home have been dying suspiciously (in her mind), due to heart attacks when they had no heart issues, and has heard whispers that these people are being coerced into changing their wills and giving all their money either to the church home, or some other church organization. She has nothing to back up this claim. She merely ran away and began a new life in the world she left over a decade ago.
Brunetti has no idea what to do to try and act on her suspicions other than some cursory inquiries which come up empty. But he is bothered by this, and this leads to a large portion of first half of the book in which Leon examines Brunetti and his wife Paola's religious beliefs, along with their daughters bad grade in religious instruction at school. Things really go nowhere until Maria is injured in a hit and run incident and relatives of the deceased also turn up dead. There are evil Mother Superiors, corrupt church officials and priests and also some seeming involvement in all of this by Opus Dei. Brunetti and his fellow officers have to try and untangle these secrets.
Book 6 brings more involvement with fellow officers Lorenzo Vianello along with smart, savvy and computer expert secretary Elettra Zorzi. This is wonderful because these two have become valuable sidekicks and helpers who were seriously missed in Book 5.
As always, well written and immerse us in the culture, tradition, beauty and seedy side of Venice!
Profile Image for Emily.
687 reviews1,996 followers
April 25, 2015
I'm rounding up because this one made me laugh so much. In past Brunetti books, Donna Leon has taken on the American presence in Italy, sex trafficking, political corruption, Italian tax laws, and basically everything else she disagrees with. In this book, she takes on the Catholic Church and its institutional protection of priests, no matter their crimes.

It turns out Paola is a virulent atheist, which results in some pretty funny conversations between Paola and Brunetti, and the way that Donna Leon describes the various clergy that Brunetti talks to is hilarious. For example:

Beside that stood, though she looked as though she had just risen from the prie-dieu in front of it, a tall woman in the habit of the order. She wore a companion cross on her broad bosom and looked at Brunetti with neither curiosity nor enthusiasm.

“Yes?” she said, speaking as though he’d interrupted her from a particularly interesting conversation with the gentleman in the loincloth.

It's really amazing. As with the other Brunetti books, the mystery is fine, but the rest is pure gold. Other noteworthy inclusions in this volume:

- Vianello's new commitment to exercise, which astonishes and dismays Brunetti to no end
- Paola cooking polenta with porcini (let me die)
- Everyone assuming that all Sicilians have been exposed to human evil and deceit
- Brunetti telling da Pre straight-faced that Vianello is well-known for his love of snuff boxes (this line made me giggle-snort)
- Snide remarks about the beautiful library across from the Piazza San Marco remaining tourist-free

It's particularly interesting to read this novel because Catholicism is so entrenched in the history of Venice, but very few of Donna Leon's characters are actually devout or practicing. You could say that this story isn't particularly balanced--the Church does not come off well here--but none of the institutions that Leon writes about ever do.
Profile Image for Brent Soderstrum.
1,399 reviews18 followers
January 17, 2011
I was very disappointed in book #6 from the Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon. This appears to be Ms. Leon's two headed attack on religion. I am not Catholic. The focus appears to be on the Catholic Church but I think it goes much deeper then that. All the characters in the book who are likeable: Guido, his wife and kids, his sargeant and his boss' assistant all voice their negative views about religion. There is no balance as there would be in the real world.

A nun tells Commissiaro Brunetti that five of the deaths at the senior living facility she worked at were mysterious. The facility is run by the Catholic Church. Also the priest who teaches Chiara in religion is giving her a bad grade and also doing inappropriate things. Greed and sexually preverse priests.

There is also not much of a mystery here and an unsatisfying ending. I am sorry Ms. Leon for the negative religious experiences you have had in the past.
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Alaska).
1,254 reviews406 followers
April 25, 2021
It's just as well my very old Kindle doesn't handle maps very well because the installments in this Brunetti series don't have any. Yet Brunetti walks a lot in his island city, except, of course, when he takes a launch. We travel with him. I enjoy these segments moving through the city even though I have no idea where I am nor where I am going nor even in which compass direction I might be headed. It just gives a very good sense of place and I like that.

The novel opens with a woman entering Brunetti's office. He feels he knows her and yet can't place her. She sees that he doesn't know her. She is Suor'Immacolata who has left the Order and is now trying to figure out her nuova vitae - her new life, as Maria Testa. Brunetti knew her as the Nun his elderly mother was very attached to now at the nursing home. Maria's story convinces Brunetti that maybe something was not quite right with the recent deaths in a different nursing home.

There is also something of Brunetti's home life and his wife and children. I haven't been reading these in order, but I don't remember Paola's parents having names. Almost on a whim, Brunetti stops in to visit his mother-in-law and finds her reading Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle in its original English. He was somewhat surprised and realized that after 20 years he didn't know his mother-in-law very well. After he arrives home, he mentions this to Paola.
‘And will knowing what she reads make you know who she is?’

‘Can you think of a better way to tell?’
The mysteries are always good, but just as fun are these insights into a family life. Of course this idea that we can know people by knowing what they read was intriguing. Do we know people by what they read or rather by what they think about what they read or maybe some of both?

I don't particularly like long reviews. I could perhaps write another two or three paragraphs about this one, but I won't. If it were a book club read I think it could prompt quite a discussion (there is a former-nun, a secret Catholic society, a fanatic ...). I enjoyed my time with it, but it doesn't deserve more than a solid 3-stars.

Profile Image for Dorothy.
1,319 reviews90 followers
October 29, 2018
Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venetian police is approached by a young woman who looks familiar but whom he can't quite place and who wants to tell him about what she fears has been happening at a nursing home where she recently worked. Only after she identifies herself does he realize that she was a nun who once cared for his mother at the nursing home where she is a patient. She had subsequently left that nursing home and worked at another, the one about which she is reporting to him. But then she grew disillusioned with life as a nun and left the Order to take up a secular life. She's no longer dressed in a nun's habit which is why he didn't recognize her.

What the young woman reports to Brunetti is her concern about the deaths of some of her former patients. Their deaths were somewhat unexpected and she believes they may have been helped along. All of the individuals were wealthy and she believes they may have been influenced to make their wills in favor of the nursing home.

Brunetti has nothing to go on except the woman's word but he remembers her as a great favorite of his mother because of her tender care and he decides to look into the situation to see what he can find out. In the midst of his inquiries, the woman who had come to him with the report is run down by a car and left for dead. She is in a coma and unable to tell the police what happened. Brunetti suspects that this was no accident and that it was related to his investigation. He determines to make a more intensive effort to find out what's going on and why someone might want to kill her.

This sixth entry in the Commissario Brunetti series tells a complicated story of abuses in the Catholic Church that seems as though it could be taken from today's headlines. It touches on the handling of priests who are accused of the sexual abuse of children and the cover-up of those abuses, greed and corruption, and looming over it all the shadowy organization of Opus Dei. The author deals with the somewhat incestuous relationship between the Italian government, the mafia, and the Church and with the resultant corruption which makes the lot of the honest policeman not a happy one. I feel the frustration of Brunetti as he tries to cut through the tangle of obstacles placed in his way to obstruct him from finding the embarrassing - and deadly - truth.

The Commissario and his family, as well as his associates with the police, are, as usual, attractive and sympathetic characters and the plot was an interesting one. I was happy enough with my reading experience here up until near the end and then it just all fell apart. The central mystery of the plot is never resolved; instead, the narrative just peters out into a most unfulfilling conclusion. It seemed as if the author simply lost interest and decided to end it in mid-stream. This certainly colored my opinion of the book and left me unsatisfied.
Profile Image for Clara.
279 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2009
I read it in two days, and now that it's over, I wish it were still Venice in the springtime, and I were still with Brunetti, taking water taxis to the Lido over feathery, pearlescent waves; eating freshly made tagliatelle with peppers, tomatoes, and sausage at home in the middle of a work day; walking soggy, glistening "narrow calles" alone in the middle of the night; mourning over razored out pages in bound journals in a magnificent, touristless library across the street from the Piazza San Marco; and ragging on Holy Mother Church with family over coffee and whipped cream cake. I'm tempted to go to the library today and pick up another one.
Profile Image for Alan Teder.
1,911 reviews80 followers
December 29, 2021
The Brunettis vs. the Church
Review of the Grove Press paperback edition (June 2015) of the original MacMillan hardcover (1997)

This 6th Commissario Brunetti investigation is a cat-and-mouse game where the Venice police inspector goes up against the secretive forces and bureaucracy of the Catholic Church and its secret society, the Opus Dei. The case starts when an ex-nun, who once was part of the order which cared for Brunetti's mother in a nursing home, comes to Brunetti with a list of what, to her, are suspicious nursing home deaths. Brunetti makes initial enquiries with relatives and members of the order and nothing seems untoward. But then the nun is severely injured in a hit and run incident and Brunetti senses there is more at play.

Actors Suzanne von Borsody as Mother Oberin and Uwe Kockisch as Commissario Brunetti in a film still from the German television adaptation of "Quietly in Their Sleep" (2004) titled "Sanft entschlafen" (To Fall Asleep Gently). Image sourced from IMDb.

Meanwhile, on the home front, daughter Chiara's report card reveals a rebellious streak against religious instruction and Brunetti's wife Paola is called to action when it becomes apparent that the school's religion teacher is a priest with a shady past of possible child abuse. The two investigations lead up to a couple of my favorite passages in the book:
'I said I'm going to stop him, and that's what I'm going to do,' Paola repeated, enunciating every syllable, as if for the deaf.
'Good,' Brunetti said. 'I hope you do. I hope you can.'
To his vast surprise, Paola answered with a quotation from the Bible: ' "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." '
'Where'd that come from?' Burnetti asked.
'Matthew. Chapter 18, verse six ...'
'No,' Brunetti said, shaking his head from side to side. 'It's strange to hear you, of all people, quoting the Bible.'
'Even the Devil is said to have that capacity,' she answered, but smiling for the first time and, with that smile, brightening the room.
Brunetti had always tried to avoid naming the person he suspected of a crime, and he tried to do so this time, but she could read the answer in his silence.
She got to her feet. 'If you've got to be up all night, why don't you try to get some sleep now?'
' "A wife is her husband's richest treasure, a helpmeet, a steadying column. A vineyard with no hedge will be overrun; a man with no wife becomes a helpless wanderer," ' he quoted, happy to have, for once, beaten her at her best game.
She couldn't disguise her surprise, nor her delight. 'It is true, then?' she asked.
'That the Devil really can quote Scripture.'

I've been trying to follow the series in order of its publication, but I've realized that it is actually mostly frozen in time, with Brunetti's children hardly aging, although the books have now spanned almost 30 years. Quietly in Their Sleep does hint that there may be future conflicts with Opus Dei in the later books, as not all of the villains are satisfactorily brought to justice. The lack of complete closure though is somewhat a characteristic of Leon's writing as if in parallel to the real world.

Trivia and Links
There is a really fascinating interview with author Donna Leon at ItalianMysteries.Com even if it was done 18 years ago. She discusses all sorts of background to the books and characters and also gives the reason that she won't allow the books to be translated into Italian (and it wasn't because she feared criticism by her neighbours in Venice).

Although it was the 6th book, Quietly in Their Sleep (aka The Death of Faith in the UK) was filmed as the 7th episode "Sanft entschlafen" (To Fall Asleep Gently) (2004) of the German language TV series (2000-2019) based on the Donna Leon / Commissario Brunetti books.

An English language summary of the German language Commissario Brunetti TV series is available at Fictional Cities (Spoilers Obviously, although often the films differ from the books). As explained in the above interview, the TV-series was a German production as the books took off in popularity the most in the German speaking countries of Europe as Leon's publishing agent was Swiss-German and knew that market the best.
Profile Image for Suzy.
747 reviews235 followers
March 31, 2022
So glad I reconnected with this series! I hadn't read one of these for 7 years (Friends in High Places), but immediately fell under the spell of Venice, the characters with a capital C, the leisurely pace and the food! The mystery wasn't bad either :).

Why I'm reading this: A friend recently mentioned she is reading the latest in this series, #31!! I went back to see I have only read 7 of the earlier books, so decided to have a visit to Venice with my friends, the Brunettis!
Profile Image for Sharyn.
2,337 reviews9 followers
July 26, 2016
I am so enjoying these books. The glimpse of life in Venice is so fascinating. This may sound silly, but I am amazed that everyone goes home for lunch and the wives cook these fabulous meals, and people drink wine with lunch. For me this is almost a fantasy life. And then they shop and cook dinner!! One of my favorite scenes is Brunetti and Vianello having to eat sandwiches for lunch and Vianello lamenting he is missing his wife's fresh made pasta.
This book has really interesting discussions of religion and the role of the church in Italy. The ending is really terrific with Brunetti confronting a priest. I know these aren't the plot or the mystery, which are fine as usual, but it is these side excursions into daily life that make these books so enjoyable!! On to the next!!
Profile Image for Brenda.
121 reviews18 followers
July 11, 2020
So Much Anger

Donna Leon uses Brunetti to express her anger towards the Catholic Church. The rash anger seems out of character for Brunetti (and his co-workers). I do hope the reasonable, old Brunetti comes back in the next book. Perhaps writing this was cathartic for Leon.
Profile Image for Maggie.
2,108 reviews9 followers
October 23, 2018
Brunetti book 6 focuses on care homes administered by Catholic nuns and priests. An interesting read not as detailed as other books in series. Recommended to read as part of series.
Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
687 reviews130 followers
August 18, 2013
Has a crime even been committed? This is the question Inspector Brunetti must investigate after hearing the story of Suor 'Immacolata. On the one hand he is inclined to give credence to her fears. He knows this woman as a compassionate and caring nun in the nursing home where his mother resides. She helps lessen the guilt he feels for his own impotence dealing with his mother's dementia. On the other hand, there is no real evidence, only the coincidence of 5 elderly patients having died within a short period of time. Furthermore, there is an issue of credibility. Suor 'Immacolata, now Maria Testa, is under great emotional stress. Partly because of these deaths, she has left her order. Brunetti wonders about her grasp on reality. First she has lived a cloistered existence of routine and predictability under the watchful eye of an authoritarian hierarchy, with little practice at thinking for herself. Second, her judgment may be clouded by the momentous decision she has just made to leave the order.

All of this is an unlikely starting point for what purports to be a murder mystery. Since this is not an official case, Brunetti must rely on the resourceful gray-area delving of his superior's secretary, Signorina Elettra. He also needs a cover story for interviewing the heirs of these recently deceased. The opportunity is perfect for showcasing Leon's skill at creating dialogue. Brunetti deftly balances tact and acumen in his interview with Maria. At the same time a busy current of thought rushes through his mind. He notes how little he actually knows about this woman despite his frequent visits to the nursing home; how little she ever disclosed about her own thoughts. It is “as if the habit she wore had amputated her personality.” (p.29)

The interview with one of the heirs, Signor da Pré, is equally masterful. Brunetti calls on the uniformed officer, Sgt. Vianello, to assist him. Da Pré, is a shriveled, avaricious man interested only in collecting antique snuff boxes. Vianello utilizes a slight familiarity with the subject to feign appreciation in order to insinuate himself into the man's confidence. Brunetti is astonished with Vianello's performance. However, he is even more impressed by the young officer's outlook. “[My uncle] was just the same, acquiring things, and things....But we never really own anything, do we?...We buy things. We wear them or put them on our walls, or sit on them, but anyone who wants to can take them away from us. Or break them....Long after he's dead someone else will own those stupid little boxes, and then someone after him.”(p.74)

Leon is an astute observer of human character. We also get a closer glimpse at Brunetti's family life. His affection for his boisterous children and his close relationship to his fiery academician wife Paola (who also cooks up a mean Tagliatelle) are viewed closely here. In particular, it allows an interesting view of the dynamics of religion in Italy. Paola is a staunch anti-cleric. Brunetti is an atheist, but has insisted that their children receive religious instruction as a foundation to an appreciation of their culture and history. Both of them are cognizant of recent Church scandals, and the permissive attitude that has allowed suspected offenders to be quietly shunted off to other parishes rather than brought to justice.

Into this mix, Leon has also thrown in a mention of Opus Dei. It's difficult to dispel the sensationalist overtones of Dan Brown's unforgettable thriller. Yet, what other way could one reference the intertwining of political and religious influence; or the ultimate goal of absolute power?

There is particular irony in the Church's adoption of familial nomenclature -- "sister", "father", etc., yet at the same time the complete lack of familial warmth in the actual relationships, particularly in contrast to the depiction of Brunetti's own family life. The juxtaposition of extreme piety and extreme hypocrisy is another avenue explored in this unconventional detective story.

For fans of this series, this is an interesting and exciting mystery with its mix of clues and sinister forces. A newcomer to the series, however, might find the frequent diversions from the case distracting, although each of the books in the series pretty much stands alone. This particular title is Book #6. I've read a number of Donna Leon's books, but not in chronological order.
Profile Image for LJ.
3,156 reviews313 followers
September 1, 2009
First Sentence: Brunetti sat at his desk and stared at his feet.

Commissario Guido Brunetti has a young woman come to his office. She seems familiar, but he doesn’t recognize her until she clarifies that the last time he saw her, she was a nun and a nursing sister. She has left the convent suspecting that several of her patients died unexpectedly and, perhaps, not of natural causes.

After being hit by a car and left in a coma, Brunetti decides to investigate even though he can find no clear crime and all doors are closed to him.

This is not a book for those who are devoted Catholics as Ms. Leon is clearly anti-the Catholic Church. I am not Catholic so it didn’t particularly bother me and, in fact, found myself agreeing with her on many point.

The main thing I did like about this book, as I do all her books, was the characters. Guido is a man with a strong morality and sense of justice, even when the law isn’t able to provide it. I love the relationship he has with his wife, the very intelligent Paola, and his children. The family is realistic and not always perfect. Then there is the somewhat enigmatic Signorina Elletra with ability and connection to find out whatever Brunetti needs.

The sense of place is wonderful. There is such a stong acknowledgement of Brunetti’s love for his city while still seeing all its flaws. I always enjoy Leon’s dialogue. I particularly loved the exchange between him and one of his officers about exercise. But she makes me think as well as in one of Gruido’s views on ownership.

The story was well done. Some may find it a bit plodding, but I enjoy watching Brunetti go through the steps of his investigation. This may not have been the best of the series, but it was still an enjoyable read.

QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP (Pol. Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-Venice, Italy, Cont) – G+
Leon, Donna – 6th in series
Penguin, 1997, US Paperback – ISBN: 9780143112204

360 reviews10 followers
April 2, 2019
This is the first of the 5 Commissario Brunetti series I haven't loved. A big part of that was the utterly negative portrayal of the Church. I got sick of the pot shots; every nice character hates the Church; every religious character is nasty. And when she brought in Opus Dei, I thought maybe I'd picked up a Dan Brown by mistake. I am a devout Catholic and was really offended by this.

But the other problem with this book was the really bad solution to the mystery. Tons of red herrings and then a resolution that made no sense.
86 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2010
An odd mystery, this crime is not resolved. It's too dangerous to go on when Opus Dei makes its influence known and the star witness and crime victim simply disappears, opting for survival over justice.

In the course of the investigation, Brunetti is injured and endures a severe infection of his wound which puts him the hospital for a time.

There is a small justice at the end when Commisario Brunetti's powerful father-in-law, Count Orazio, manages to get a pedophile priest "re-assigned" to an Italian version of Alcatraz. There the Opus Dei priest, Padre Pio, will minister to criminals, not children, and spend his years as isolated and separated from society as the prisoners. Justice, indeed.
Profile Image for Christina  Costain.
85 reviews7 followers
August 10, 2015
I've been steadily reading through Ms. Leon's Commissario Brunetti books for a year now and was so greatly disappointed in this one. As a Catholic who has been very blessed by the formation through Opus Dei, I found her "research" to be heavily in favor of all things negative in the Church. What, not even one good priest or nun? This book was in poor taste and filled with what is obviously, Ms Leon's bad experiences with the church. I'll keep her in my prayers but honestly say, not all priests are pedophiles or on a power trip. Thankfully, many have a servants heart and are seeking to faithfully live their vocation to God and His children.
Profile Image for Sandra.
Author 11 books572 followers
November 9, 2014
As far as mysteries go, I found The Death of Faith to be one of the more complex books in the series by author Donna Leon. The story leads the reader through a winding road of victims, suspects and motives, and comes to the usual surprising ending. Not all questions are answered, which makes the story even more mysterious.
Profile Image for Zain.
1,288 reviews117 followers
June 12, 2020
Another Fantastic Book! 🥳

This is the sixth book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series. Like the other books, the author, Donna Leon, includes the city of Venice as one of the story’s characters. In languid and loving details, we read along as the city is described for our enjoyment.

Commissario Brunetti is a man of mostly good humor and a lot of good honor, so when a former nun comes to him for help, no way can he refuse.

The nun used to work for the nursing home where his insane mother lives, but she has left there, and her former profession because of suspicious activity with several patients.

Although his investigation appears to be time wasting, Brunetti unexpectedly uncovers certain evidence that puts the young woman’s life in danger.

This book was written during the late 90’s when people were afraid to openly challenge the Catholic Church. The Church doesn’t appear to be as powerful now as it once was. However, this could have been written during today’s time and still be as enjoyable.

Another five stars 🌟 for this series.
Profile Image for Kira.
687 reviews21 followers
May 26, 2022
This book is set in Italy and apart from having to google certain terms, I enjoyed it just fine.

Brunetti is a commissioner in police and the story starts when a nun approaches him, telling him about some kind of scam going on.

What progressed was mysterious and kept me on the edge. I loved the writing style and the characters, especially Paola, Brunetti's wife.

The book ended leaving some questions unanswered but it feels like a part of it's charm and there couldn't have been a better way to end it.
Profile Image for May.
732 reviews65 followers
March 17, 2020
I did enjoy this novel. However, I wasn’t clear on how the many different threads were resolved. This leaves me feeling like I need to reread the last several chapters! Thus, 3.5⭐️ is rounded up to 4 ⭐️

I am already looking forward to my next Donna Leon read!!
Profile Image for Camilla Tilly.
150 reviews4 followers
February 22, 2016
This is the 6th book in the series and I have come to realize that Donna Leon's authorship is very uneven. The previous book, Aqua Alta, is by far the best of the 6 that I have read so it was somewhat of a disappointment to pick up this book and think that it would be of the same quality and it not measuring up at all.
The book starts out with a nun coming in to Brunetti's office basically telling him nothing more than that she has left her order because they do not join her in her belief that five deaths in a nursing home are suspicious. Lots of time is spent in the book, following this "case" that in a way is not a case at all. In the middle of it all, Leon throws in a little bit of Dan Brown and Opus Dei but doesn't go anywhere with it. The nun get run over in a hit and run but that is not solved. One of the five deaths is explained but the other four are just left as is.
At the same time in the book Chiara Brunetti is having problems in school with her religion's class and that keeps on popping up throughout the book. It feels like this book was put together in all haste. That it is a portrayal of what Donna Leon thinks about the Catholic Church and religion in general and at some points, I feel it highly offended even though I am not a Catholic. With the Chiara part in the book, she gets to throw in some of the pedofile problems the Church has and gets a revenge of sorts at the end when Chiara's teacher is removed to an island of hardened male criminals. I am getting more and more convinced that Paola Brunetti is a self portrait of Donna Leon and that Paola gets to express her own opinions. When I pick up a book like this, I do not really want anti-religion propaganda but that is what this whole book is.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,274 reviews25 followers
June 27, 2013
This book, like the other Commissario Brunetti books I recently read, used a very topical issue as the centerpoint of the story. I found that my pleasure in the reading was definitely enhanced by my interest in the issue (just as it was diminished by my discomfort with the issue in the last Leon book that I read).

As with any series, part of the reader's pleasure has to come from familiarity with the principal character, his friends and routines. I particularly enjoyed that aspect of this book. Commissario Brunetti has an "ah ha" moment during a "business" meeting with his mother-in-law. He returned home and commented to his wife: "I never knew your mother read." (twenty years into the relationship!) It was a sweet moment because he was primarily demonstrating his disappointment in spending so many years in her company without really knowing or understanding her.

The support and loyalty of Brunetti's colleagues also was demonstrated beautifully in this story. So, like many of Donna Leon's books, the pleasure I find in reading them comes from the little things encountered along the way rather than in the resolution of the crime.
Profile Image for Les Wilson.
1,526 reviews8 followers
June 12, 2022
I have enjoyed all the Commissario Brunetti books I’ve read but this is my least favourite. I found Nothing of note in it. Still worth a read.
790 reviews1 follower
December 14, 2019
This is a very good mystery but what I liked the most about it is the depiction of Commissario Brunetti's family. Their affection for each other is apparent and Brunnetti and his wife have a great relationship. The descriptions of meals prepared and eaten made me hungry! I also appreciated the esprit de corps among some of the men at his police station. So a good mystery and a heart warming look at family life and friends - thats a winner in my book!
215 reviews
April 24, 2012
I stopped reading this novel after Chapter 4. I was hurt and dissapointed by all the Catholic-bashing that went on. I never thought Donna Leon would sink to the level of a Dan Brown. Ms. Leon seems to think that all the reasonable and good people in the world are atheists, and that all Christians, especially Catholics, are evil.
Profile Image for Dolf Patijn.
628 reviews31 followers
July 1, 2020
The sixth in the series and just as good as the other ones I've read. I like the fact that not everything is always resolved. It makes it more real. These books are so nice to read, also because of the atmosphere. I will wait a while with the next one but I'm already looking forward to it.
33 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2018
Hmm, I have epic love for Donna Leon’s books but this one didn’t quite do it for me. Perhaps there weren’t enough descriptions of the food Paola was cooking?
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