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About Face

(Commissario Brunetti #18)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  4,835 ratings  ·  516 reviews
Guido Brunetti and his wife, Paola, are on their way to a dinner party at Palazzo Falier, home of Paola's parents, the rich and powerful Conte and Contessa Falier, While Paola stops to examine a bookstore window, Brunetti's eye is caught by a couple ahead of them in the nearly deserted streets; a woman in an impossibly expensive fur coat on the arm of a much older man.

Audio CD, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by BBC Audiobooks
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Margaret1358 Joyce Interesting question. The ending did lack a satisfying plot resolution. The author may have been experimenting with a bit of post-modernism, in that s…moreInteresting question. The ending did lack a satisfying plot resolution. The author may have been experimenting with a bit of post-modernism, in that she opted to reference the insolubility of crime in Italy, rather than staying within her imagined world for a more organic resolution.(less)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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In this 18th book in the 'Commissario Brunetti' series, the detective investigates two murders. The story can be read as a standalone with regard to the mystery, but readers familiar with the characters will enjoy it more.


Police Commissario Guido Brunetti and his wife Paola have been invited to dine at the home of Paola's wealthy, aristocratic parents - Conte and Contessa Falier - so Guido can meet businessman Maurizio Cataldo. Cataldo wants the Count to invest in China with him and Falier
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Comissario Brunetti and I enjoyed reading this book but the ending was so stupid it ruined the whole thing for me. Stop reading if you don't want to know the end... The woman who was the central character was a victim of medical malpractice and had to have extensive facial reconstruction, but she would rather people think that she had had way too many facelifts than let them know about the medical issue. That is totally unbelieveable to me. Then when her husband lets slip about ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who follows my reviews will know that I am a fan of Donna Leon and love her characters. Emphasis on character. If you want action you will be bored. On the other hand if you enjoy character development with occasional lapses into discussion of Cicero and Ovid, not to mention Henry James, and biting commentary on the state of Italian government and the corruption of Italian society, you cannot help but love Leon’s books.

My biggest complaint with this audiobook is the reader, David Colacci.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another great book by Donna Leon featuring the wonderful Commissario Brunetti. Leon is the queen when it comes to writing a crime book where the actual crime is such a small part of the story...vital...but not the beginning and end point. She writes about what it is to be human, to be compassionate. She writes about Venice in a way that makes me want to be there. Brunetti is such a strong and well developed character...I expect to meet him any now.
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the book begins with a social outing at the in-laws in which Brunetti's seating across from a disfigured woman gives him an enjoyable evening discussing classic literature. A carabinieri officer's death brings Brunetti and a new lady officer in to investigate. By the time they arrive at the scene, a cover-up is already underway. Brunetti learns the death may be tied to another death which was in another jurisdiction. His father-in-law asks him to investigate a man who proposed a joint b ...more
Oh, some of the Brunetti relationships (familial and otherwise) do grab some depth in this one. Especially between Guido and his father-in-law, the Conte. And he also has a new equal in rank colleague Griffoni at work. She sounds like she physically fits into a Swedish modeling job gig more than into the police bureau. But no, she's apt!

I wanted to give it a 4 star but I just could not. 3.5 it is, at least. But Paola's remarks, especially upon the readings discussed and also the politico assumpt
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My faith in Donna Leon is restored, after what was for me the disaster of "The Girl of his Dreams." All the regular characters are here, with the addition of a new one--the fascinating Commissaria (same rank as Brunetti) Claudia Griffoni. She is beautiful, a bit mysterious, and Brunetti is as smitten as anybody married to Paola could be. She looks to become a regular. I hope so. The mystery is a good one and is solved. Justice is done, although not in a way that would appeal to American jurispru ...more
I love Leon's characters--Venitian Police Commissioner Guido Brunetti, his colleagues, and his family. These relationships are well developed, believable, and crafted with humor and love. I was tired of her American bashing in previous book and happy that this quirk of the American-born ex-pat Leon was absent from this latest instalment. However, there does seem to be a pattern of developing one mystery quite thoroughly but then not resolving it. A secondary, or offshoot, mystery is usually reso ...more
Dave Szostak
Leisured. but sturdy, Venetian procedural.
Bill Lancaster
Donna Leon's eighteenth book, About Face, is ostensibly a mystery about the accumulation (and storage and transport) of trash in Venice, Italy. It also concerns the fate of a woman with excessive facial plastic surgery. Leon's recurring character, Commissario Guido Brunetti, is tasked with finding the killer of a fellow police officer, who was investigating the illegal transport of environmental waste.
This is the first Brunetti mystery I've read and I recognize the protagonist as a very likable
For fans of Guido Brunetti, this book features a fair amount of family drama, beginning with Brunetti being seated at dinner near an old friend of the Contessa's (his mother-in-law). The lady is married to a high-powered merchant acquaintance of the Conte. She is also delightfully well read, and Brunetti enjoys a deep discussion around his favorite topic, books. So much so, His wife, Paola, chastises him for paying her too much attention!
But the policeman soon has other worries. A Carabinieri o
Moushine Zahr
This title is the first novel I read from American author Donna Leon, but it is the 18th novel of the Commissaire Brunetti investigation. I guess it is nice to finally read police stories in which the main officer has a family, a functionnal family, and a personnal life beyond his job unlike the too many stories and TV series we're very familiar with. However, there is little action and little suspense in this book. I am not thrilled by this particular book, but I'll give another try to another ...more
John McDonald
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like so many of Donna Leon's Brunetti fictions, we learn so much more about the author's beliefs (some might say her prejudices) and what she thinks is right and just. This is no more so than in About Face, a fine and elegantly written story about the malpractice of a phony dentist, the love of an aging and wealthy Venetian for his disfigured wife, a rich entrepreneur who does business or had done business with the Conte Falier, Poala's father. Along the way, we learn just how unbridled and corr ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Random thoughts about this book and the series:

* I'm getting to know Brunetti's habits; for example, how he pulls out his bottom desk drawer to prop up his feet.

*The lunch time in Venice (well, all of Italy and many other countries) is sacred family time. Brunetti enjoys a meal and time with his wife and two teenaged children over some deliciously-described food.

*While at a casino on a case, Brunetti brings along his wife, Paola, so he won't be so obvious as a cop. While waiting for him while h
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorites in the series so far, and that's saying something. This story sees Commissario Guido Brunetti dealing with toxic waste dumping, gangsters, the powerlessness of many women, and, as always, the overwhelming corruption found in Italy. Leon, as usual, weaves that together with the ongoing story of Guido and Paola's marriage, his wealthy in-laws, the ongoing game-playing within the police, and somehow manages to tell the truth, as dispiriting as it is, while also showing t ...more
Kathleen Newton
Not nearly as good as the other Donna Leone mysteries. Confusing plot line. I didn’t enjoy Brunetti’s personality so much in this book. He seemed childish at times. His wife Paola was much more interesting. Maybe she should be the detective. Also, there was a lot of description of the city and the views. This would probably be much more absorbing to people who have actually been there..
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Italian mystery and Donna Leon fans.
Six-word Review: Brunetti pulled into a corruption case.

The story opens with Brunetti and his wife Paola attending a dinner at Paola's aristocratic in-laws' place. One of the guests, Signor Marinello wants Paola's father to invest in a scheme to export trash and garbage to China. In the process, Brunetti meets Franca Marinello, who repels him because of her obvious and unattractive plastic surgery but impresses him with her knowledge of ancient Roman authors.

The next day he is drawn into a case
Jill Lawson
"About Face" is very disappointing. If you are a Donna Leon fan, as I am, give this a miss. If you have never tried this author, don't start with this one. Only the familiar characters kept me going. although the new female police officer, Claudia, seems promising. The other characters and the plot are pretty unbelievable. Try harder next time, Donna.
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good next book in the series and makes you think about the amount of garbage we have on this Earth!
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guido-s-picks
Another excellent book by Donna Leon. Another one with an ending that doesn't tie it neatly in a bow for us, but leaves it ambiguous - just like real life. Guido Brunetti continues to be a character who is a mensch in the finest sense of the word. He struggles to walk the fine line between idealism and being a realist. Above all, he remains a decent human being who is an excellent just of humankind.

In this book, the author reveals the international issue of garbage and where it goes - legally o
Joseph Young
May 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
An interesting story, but not that compelling. It's kind of interesting that at the end, the main character chooses corruption with honour(?) over blind justice.

Perhaps the problem is that the main compelling point seems to be that a woman's face looks horribly disfigured by cosmetic surgery, and everyone wonders why. Who cares? How does it actually affect the world? It's some gossipy rag that doesn't affect anyone one way or another. It takes about 1/3 of the book before something actually int
If you have read any Donna Leon novel about Venice, you've already read this one. Commissario Brunetti has a loving family with normal teenagers who eat most of their delicious meals together. They walk around Venice in all types of weather and stop at cafes. He works as a police officer who almost never sees justice done. Second verse, same as the first.
Loyal readers will find this book unnecessary filler and new readers will be bored to distraction. I am going to read all the reviews of her n
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The perfect face...which does not move with her emotions...and a mind far beyond most of her acquaintances, except for Donatella and Brunetti.
The story behind the face involves a perfect string of crimes, as well as an ancient Roman capacity for self-sacrifice in the cause of honour, in the manner of Ovid's "Fasti."
Would have been 4.5 stars, but for a lengthy excursion into a storage container which was difficult to visualize and could have been shorter, IMHO.
Mary Ellen
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
The murder of a member of the Caribinieri is the central mystery to be solved, but the solving of it takes a chapter or two of basic police work. Many more pages are spent on the mystery of plastic surgery gone wrong on the face of a young woman who has an antiquated taste in reading and a somewhat incomprehensible allure for Brunetti.

I kept waiting for this book to become as engaging and enjoyable as all the other Brunetti books I've read. And then it was over, and it never had.
Mary Ann
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m a fan of Leon’s work and have been reading the mysteries in chronological order. This novel surprised me. It was so bad that at times I thought Leon couldn’t possibly have written it. There was a lack of consistency in characterizations that was jarring. The plots themselves were all over the place. It was a most disappointing work. I hope Leon returns to her high standards with the next book.
Well worth reading, like all Donna Leon, but this particular title, for me, lacks the wonderful domestic details that are so endearing about the Brunetti books; Signorina Elettra is not on full form and, again for me, the plot is not quite as good as usual. However, very glad I read it, and Donna Leon, even when not at her very best, is head and shoulders above many!!!
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Commissario (Dottore) Guido Brunetti of the police in Venice, this time going after a cop-killer and illegal dumping of hazardous waste, and he still finds time for his Caffe Coretto, wine and grappa, amazing man. I am so sad, because there are not that many Guido Brunetti mysteries left to read...might have to start over with the first one.
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-spy, series
Generally I really enjoy the volumes in this series, but this one was not up to standard. Some of Leon's descriptions were murky (dull eyes indicate rage -- really?) and even though the books are not plot-driven, this story had too many loose ends to forgive. I save the Brunetti mysteries for escapist reading but it was work to finish this one.
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
This wasn't my favorite of the Commissario Brunetti mysteries. There was little action and the end left too much unresolved. And normally I am fine with an "all talking" book! But somehow this one needed something more to it.
Rachelle Urist
Jun 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery writer is renowned for capturing the color and geography of Venice, Italy. If that’s all you need in a book, read this. I don’t care about local color – unless it supports and helps drive the plot. For a mystery writer, she generates little suspense. A real bore.
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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 29 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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