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TOP 100 REVIEWERon March 13, 2010
Book 10 in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery series

Donna Leon's novels are based around corruption, public distrust and fear of government and police. This story opens when a fishing boat catches fire and sinks after a violent explosion. A subsequent investigation into the cause of the incident and the discovery of the owner and his son's bodies points to foul play.

The murder of the two fishermen of Pellestrina draws Commissario Brunetti to a tight knit community where villagers have grown suspicious to outsiders and are extremely loyal to each other. The Questore's secretary, Signorina Elettra offers to visit the island where she has relatives to covertly find out what the locals think and are not openly discussing with the police.

Brunetti finds himself not only having to confront the issues of her safety but also of his feelings for her..Guido knows he has a dangerous task ahead and anxiously waits to see what Elettra will uncover..

The plotting is excellent, highlighting family ties and personal friendships. Great character development exposes another side to the illusive Signorina Elettra, a person we known up to now as a machine like secretary. Yes she really has a personal side, a life off the job...This is a refreshing change of focus...As usual Brunetti's family life is part of the story. Woman's intuition leads his wife to be concerned about his working involvement with Elettra....The story ends with a violent storm that catches Brunetti completely off guard.

The novel is an asset to the series, another one I enjoyed.
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A Sea of Troubles is a pleasant change in the Guido Brunetti series. Although Venice is surrounded (and almost inundated by) the sea, there's often little sense of that element in the earlier stories except in recounting the need to take a boat or vaporetto to get somewhere. In this book, we learn about fishing and its challenges (for fisherman and those who eat their catch) as Donna Leon takes us southwest of Venice to the long, thin island of Pellestrina.

The opening of the book contains an excellent map of Venice and its lagoon that covers an area of about 40 by 25 kilometers. Stick a book mark into where that map is: You'll be referring to the map often.

A fire breaks out on a fishing boat docked on Pellestrina. Soon, the whole harbor is filled with fishermen seeking to save their boats. After things settle down, someone notices that two fishermen are missing.

Before long, the various police bureaucracies are vying to get rid of the case. Commissario Guido Brunetti is the lucky winner and finds himself up against a town that doesn't talk to outsiders . . . and certainly not to Venetian policemen.

While seeking to learn more about what happened, Signorina Elletra Zorzi decides she would like to play undercover detective by spending a few days with her cousin on Pellestrina. Who knows? Perhaps someone will tell her something.

Guido is very opposed but knows he cannot sway Signorina Elletra. However, he can try to protect her. Even Paolo begins to notice that Guido is obsessed. Could it be that his feelings for Signorina Elletra are more than what they seem?

As usual, back channels begin to provide the information that reveals who had the motive for crime. With that knowledge, Brunetti knows that he's got a dangerous task ahead.

I cannot remember reading another book by Donna Leon that is as well steeped in local geography and conditions as A Sea of Troubles is. It makes for a compelling story.

I also liked the way Ms. Leon changed the focus of an investigation to put Signorina Elletra into a role other than as computer hacker and lover of flowers and fine clothes.

The plot also successfully triangulates the themes of private and public corruption that abound in this series with family ties and personal friendships. In that context, Ms. Leon asks a very fundamental question that will intrigue you: How well do we know anyone else?

Have a great trip to Pellestrina!

And be careful where you get your clams.
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on December 25, 2014
I am a great fan of Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries. Ms Leon appears to feel no need to feed the blood-lust that appeals to some readers, no need to take one on a frenetic journey through one detailed description of atrocity after atrocity. Instead, she develops her characters carefully, deliberately, and believably and we are provided with an intriguing glimpse into police politics in Venice and the distrust of any bureaucracy in Italy.

'A Sea of Troubles', however, is perhaps one of her best works in this series. I literally couldn't put it down--not with some of my favourite characters suddenly at risk.
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on December 19, 2013
I love all of Donna Leon's books. I've been lucky enough to visit Venice - my visit was much too short. I love reading her books, seeing names and places that I have visited. This book took me to a part of the lagoon that I had not visited, which I found fascinating. Donna Leon has allowed me to visit the back streets and calles that I possibly walked by - but did not take note of.
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on April 1, 2015
One of my least favourite of this wonderful writer's books. However, because she is a literate and literary writer--much more than simply a writer of crime novels--there is always satisfying pleasure in reading any of her novels. I am a huge Donna Leon fan!
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on April 4, 2004
Leon's detective, Commissario Brunetti is a cultured Venetian, much given to pondering the mysteries of life, and engaging with his equally urbane literature professor wife.
Each book in the series, as well as providing a well-plotted mystery, advances the relationships between the recurring cast. Particularly attractive is the rather enigmatic Signorina Elettra, for whom Brunetti holds an (always gentlemanly) candle!
I found this story really interesting, set as it is on one of the outer islands of Venice, away from the usual tourist haunts.
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