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A Noble Radiance [Paperback]

Donna Leon
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 24 2009
The seventh crime novel featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti and set in Venice. The new owner of a farmhouse in a small village at the foot of the Dolomites disturbs a macabre grave, and sets in train a murder investigation. A vital piece of evidence leads to the heart of aristocratic Venice.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Providing insight into Venetian society through the lens of a gripping intellectual mystery, this atmospheric tale from Leon (Uniform Justice, etc.) finds Inspector Guido Brunetti investigating an aristocratic family with a shady past. When a rural landowner discovers the body of Roberto Lorenzoni, who was kidnapped two years earlier, Brunetti immediately suspects the victim's family. The Lorenzoni clan bears the legacy of betraying the Jews of Venice during World War II, and from these ashes, its members have created a thriving enterprise. Roberto's cousin Maurizio, who's next in line to inherit the family fortune and business, is the logical suspect, but Brunetti senses something more insidious at play. As he works his way through Italian three-course meals and family crises, he uncovers disturbing details about the Lorenzoni family. Leon deftly depicts the tensions between Brunetti and his ambitious Sicilian boss, as well as the irony of the justice system ("Imprisoned parricides receive fan mail; officialdom and Mafia dance hand in hand toward the ruin of the state"). Brunetti emerges as an intelligent, somewhat world-weary individual who believes in his cause if not the system itself. In short, he's the ideal protagonist for this culturally rich mystery.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"In her detective novels with Commissario Brunetti, Donna Leon can paralyse the reader with a joyful suspense, lost in the environs of Venice and hopelessly in love with her central character and his wife" Mail on Sunday "The marvel of this book is that almost every detail on every page forms part of a succession of clues, planted with exquisite precision, to unravelling the mystery" Sunday Times "Goes a long way to confirming Donna Leon's claim to have taken literary possession of Venice ... A Noble Radiance gives the reader a delightful foretaste of the summer holidays to come, but it also offers much more than that" Independent on Sunday

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's a shame that A Noble Radiance is cast as a mystery. Take the need to solve the mystery out, and this would be an above-average novel about contemporary families in Venice.

Ms. Leon takes a long time to set up the mystery. Then, she has the investigation proceed very slowly as well. That would be fine if the resolution was interesting, unexpected, and credible. But to me, the resolution was nonsense: It just didn't ring true.

With much of the story taking place outside of Venice, there's not as much of the local color as usual. The best parts of the story relate to Guido Brunetti's father-in-law warning him about Guido's marriage to Paola, eating Chira's first dinner she's cooked for the family, and exploring Signorina Elletra's seemingly contradictory morals about getting secret information and making public investments.

Here's the set-up: A house and garden have fallen into ruin because the heirs are squabbling until a German buys the place for a huge sum and starts fixing it up. While the garden is being tilled, a bone sticks up that turns out to be human. As the police dig around, they also find a ring with the crest of a noble Venetian family, the Lorenzoni family, best known in recent times for having sold out the location of Venice's Jews to the SS during World War II. The family's son had been kidnapped two years earlier, and he was never found. When the autopsy shows a bullet hole in the skull of a young man, Commissario Guido Brunetti looks for a dental match. Finding one, he now has reason to dig into the kidnapping, looking for murderers.

The Lorenzonis have taken on their lost son's cousin as their heir. Was he involved? Why else had a motive?

As you finish this book, think about what the purpose of a family should be.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing first taste Dec 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Donna Leon book I've read, and I doubt I will be reading more. I've glanced through the other reviews that were posted, and I must say, I'm quite shocked. How this book is an international best seller is beyond me.
First, A Noble Radiance was extremely dull. I found myself skipping entire chapters just so I could finish (I can't just stop reading a book, even if it's awful -- I have to finish it). There was no tension, no characters to really care about, no suspense. The plot was completely transparent from the very beginning, and the end was so weak I wished I hadn't read the book at all.
Second, there were way too many Italian phrases with too little translation. I could make my way through a lot of them, thanks in part to the languages I do understand, but Italian is just not one I've had time to master. Some contexual assistance would have helped, but just throwing a phrase out there and expecting the majority of readers to understand it isn't fair.
A big peeve of mine is spelling errors and grammatical issues in best selling books. If it's a best seller, you should have a proofreader for the paperback. I can think of three obvious misspellings off the top of my head, and some of the sentence structures were incomprehensible.
Overall, I found A Noble Radiance a complete disappointment. The cover is pretty, but that's about all the inspiration it holds.
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5.0 out of 5 stars as pure as crime fiction gets Dec 20 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Donna Leon is wonderful. A Noble Radiance is the first book of hers that I have read, and I just know that she is wonderful. There is something so pure about this book. That's the only word i can think of to describe it. It is pure crime fiction, crime fiction with its heart in the plot, its pace in the movement of it, and its pleasure in the unravelling of it. Instead of giving us a deep and fascinating character study, Leon manages still to create a brilliant main character. He is developed subtly, gradually and fully, but he never becomes more important than the mystery. That is something lacking from some crime fiction today. The actual mystery takes a back-seat to things like setting, character, atmosphere. Here, the plot takes the front seat, but Leon still is able to present a brilliant backdrop, a wonderful atmosphere steeped in culture, and very fine characters. She uses seemingly large brushstrokes to draw them, and then fills in the details with tiny ones, imperceptible ones. She lays the clues masterfully, moves her plot along with brilliant skill. I can't really describe what a sublime pleasure it was to read this, and what joy I feel at having several more to read!
A Noble Radiance is an absolutely lovely book. Venice is beautifully described, i want to visit the city. It is very rare to find a book so rich in culture. (Also, the idea that the police of Venice have enough money spare form their budget to buy new flowers for the offices every week is an exquisitely romantic one)
I would reccomend Donna Leon to everyone. I can't believe i've been missing out for so long.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Leon: Another Glowing Thriller! Sept. 23 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For Donna Leon's fans, Venice, the Most Serene Republic, is anything but serene! In yet another, the seventh
sure-winner in her Commissario Guido Brunetti series, Leon once again masterminds a plot, setting, and unforgettable characters in a must-read book.
In "A Noble Radiance," Leon shows what a master she is in establishing a grappling narrative hook, an absorbing
plot filled with dangerous curves, pitfalls, and landmines, and a theme that at once is contemporary and yet for all
time. The novel begins with the discovery of a badly decomposed body in a lonely farmfield in the north of Italy, and,
as her previous novels have it, Brunetti is given the case.
Just as he suspects, the body belongs to a kidnapped young man, the noble heir to a considerable estate. It is
Brunetti's responsibility to bring the news to the young man's family. Realist that he is, Brunetti is quick to find that,
indeed, something is rotten in the land of the nobili, and from this point on, the reader is led--even carried--to the
conclusion. The conclusion, however, appears a bit weak, albeit quite satisfying, I suppose, as Leon's endings usually
have a way of being far more thought- provoking.
Still, the book is well-worth the time spent--unfortunately, the time goes all too fast when reading Leon; one has the
tendency to wish they would keep on going, as they are, indeed, so mesmerizing. She has created such memorable
characters, most notably Brunetti, who has such a noble philosophy. It is almost as if he is a salmon without a stream,
as his ideals, his honesty, his concept of right and wrong seem at odds with today's sense of morality, whether it be
Italian politics or not.
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