“By Its Cover”

“By Its Cover” is the latest in Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series.  Set in the spring in Venice, a city that American Leon has lived in for more than thirty years, the plot involves the theft of priceless literary works from the fictitious Biblioteca Merula.  An American professor researching maritime trade,  an ex-priest reading about the history of the Church, and a guard who has worked at the library for a very long time are the only suspects in the crime.

Leon has written more than thirty books in this series.  There is usually more than one sub-plot plus opportunities to learn more about Brunetti, his family, and life in Venice.  “By Its Cover” is perhaps the most straight forward plot in the more than 10 books I have read in her series.  Since there are really only three suspects, with  one of them eventually being brutally murdered, the plot unfolds with not too many unexpected events.

What Leon does develop in this novel is the relationship that Brunetti has with his wife’s mother and father.  Paola’s parents are very wealthy, own a home on the Grand Canal and are part of the Italian aristocracy.  Brunetti’s acceptance by his wife’s family has improved over the years, and in “By Its Cover” the reader learns of the affection they have for their son-in-law.  Add this to Leon’s descriptions of Venice in the spring and you have a good read.  This may not be Leon’s best work, but it does keep the reader interested and entertained.

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