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.