Death at La Fenice

Death at La Fenice

Book - 1992
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Available in paperback for the first time, the first book in the internationally bestselling Guido Brunetti detective series in which a high society murder leads the detective

Beautiful and serene Venice is a city almost devoid of crime. But that is little comfort to Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor whose intermission refreshment comes one night with a little something extra in it--cyanide. For Guido Brunetti, vice-commissario of police and genius detective, finding a suspect isn't a problem; narrowing the large and unconventional group of enemies down to one is. As the suave and pithy Brunetti pieces together clues, a shocking picture of depravity and revenge emerges, leaving him torn between what is and what should be right--and questioning what the law can do, and what needs to be done.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c1992
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060740689
Call Number: M LEON DON
Characteristics: 263 p. ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

During intermission at the La Fenice opera house in Venice, Italy, a notoriously difficult and widely disliked German conductor is poisoned. Detective Guido Brunetti investigates.

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sapl3 Apr 09, 2020


This is the first book in the Commisario Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice. Leon paints a picture of its beauty and its age as her characters walk the streets, climb the many stairs to their apartments, or huddle in their tenement-like hovels. The city is as much a character in the story as the people themselves.

Brunetti is a quiet, thoughtful man, who relies on his wits to investigate the death of Maestro Helmut Wellauer. The Maestro is found in his dressing room between acts of La Traviata, the apparent victim of cyanide poisoning. Brunetti concentrates on finding out as much as he can about, “Wellauer, the man” for here, he believes, he’ll find the answers that he needs to solve this case.

This was a quick, enjoyable read, with comfortable characters and an interesting plot and is reminiscent of Barbara Nadel’s Inspector Ikmen series, set in Turkey. Both provide a good story, and picturesque scenery. The occasional touches of humour make one laugh out loud and help to humanize the characters. Cozy reads for a winter’s day!

Mar 02, 2019

Great read!

Sep 27, 2017

"Death At La Fenice" is the first book in the Commissario Brunetti series. The reader can already see evidence of the Donna Leon writing style: the emphasis on family, relationships, Venetian culture and Italian culture. IMHO, I would rate "Death At La Fenice" at 4.0 stars for a great first effort.

Apr 13, 2017

Streptomycin, among related antibiotics, is known to cause hearing loss, as a side effect.

Jul 20, 2016

A satisfying whodunnit, the novel exudes a wonderful sense of place, taking readers into the streets of Venice and providing a glimpse inside the opera scene, with all its scandals. I look forward to reading more of Commissario Brunetti!

Oct 05, 2014

I was actually able to predict the outcome of this story well before the end. However, the sordid reason behind the tale was a surprise. This series was recommended to me and has quite the following. Although I liked the story, I found it a little light and not terribly engrossing. However, I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the series, which I understand improves as it goes on.

Aug 17, 2014

I've read several as I could find them from the middle of this wonderful series, and decided to go back to the beginning, which is this book. Leon already has a back story for Commisario Brunetti of the Venetian police, his family, in-laws, co-workers and boss. Brunetti's character is here already, his cynicism about the endemic corruption in his beloved city; his love for the opera of La Fenice, an institution for locals, not tourists; and his love for his English professor wife and their two children. Leon sometimes makes us wait for the crime, but here, it comes at the beginning. The world's best conductor dies during the second intermission, clearly murdered by a method Brunetti's only read about but recognizes immediately. There are, unfortunately, too many suspects to satisfy Brunetti's boss, who wants this crime solved immediately, because it's bad for tourism. Knowing that the solution lies in who the conductor was as a person, Brunetti digs into his past and the people who knew him. A long Brunetti family dinner helps provide an important key to how he approaches the answer to the case. A delicious book. Leon's long series can be a tad uneven, but a second reading of the first book shows her at the top of her form.

Aug 22, 2012

Not a great book, but it is the first in a large series so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and read a few more. I really liked the italian/venetian references, since I'm familiar with both the language and the place.

shannon40 Aug 13, 2012

This first novel in the Guido Brunetti series shows that Donna Leon had a good grasp of her characters and setting right from the beginning.

Aug 09, 2011

As always the casual acceptance of endemic corruption serves as a background to the frustrations of the hero of the story. Another crime to solve for the charming Brunetti with all the fascinating political, geographical, family and cultural insights into modern day Italian life (and more specifically Venetian life) that Donna Leon weaves into her narratives

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