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The pleasures of this series are several: the exotic setting in Venice; the corrupt background of Italian culture, society and politics; the endearing cast of characters, including the earnest protagonist Commissario Guido Brunetti, his wife and children, her father the almost majestic Count, the ridiculously efficient secretary, Signorina Elettra, and more; the quality of the writing and the deft spinning of the mysteries. But, most of all, the books stand out because of Brunetti's philosophical, almost ancient or medieval, concern with justice. In this last regard, A Noble Radiance is an especially fine installment. Brunetti, the mere policeman, has always had an awkward relationship with the Count and it is both tested and enriched here. Along the way they have an exchange that goes a long way to explaining Brunetti's character--as well as why Europe is in such decline. The Count asks why it is always so important to Brunetti to arrest the person who committed the crime in a nation where so many get away with so much:
"You've read the Greeks, haven't you?" Brunetti finally asked.

"Some of them, yes"

"Critias?"

"So long ago as to have only the vaguest of memories of what he wrote. Why?" [...]

"I'm probably quoting him badly, but somewhere he says that the laws of the state will take care of public crimes, and that's why we need religion, so that we can believe divine justice will take care of private crime." [...] "But we don't have religion any more, do we, not really?" The Count shook his head. "So maybe that's what I'm after, not that I've ever talked about it or, for that fact, much thought about it. If divine justice won't take care of private crime any more, then it's important that it be seen to, by someone."
Pretty tall order, standing in for lost Judeo-Christian morality by yourself, no? Anyway, it's that ambition and the unassuming manner in which he goes about trying to fulfill that make Commissario Guido Brunetti one of the best detectives in current fiction and Donna Leon's one of the best crime writers.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

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See also:

Donna Leon (3 books reviewed)
Mystery
Donna Leon Links:

    -Donna Leon (Grove Atlantic)
    -Donna Leon (Random House)
    -INTERVIEW: One Minute With: Donna Leon, crime writer (Independent, 30 MARCH 2012)
    -INTERVIEW: DONNA LEON INTERVIEW (giall.com, Venice, May 5, 2003)
    -MEET THE WRITERS: Donna Lean (Barnes & Noble)
    -Donna Leon (BookBrowse)
    -Donna Leon (Tangled Web)
    -Novels by Donna Leon
    -READING GROUP GUIDE: A Noble Radiance
    -REVIEW: of A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon (Val McDermid, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of A Noble Radiance and Uniform Justice by Donna Leon (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Acqua Alta by Donna Leon (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Friends in High Places by Donna Leon (Peter Guttridge, Observer)
    -REVIEW: of A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon (Maxim Jakubowski, The Guardian)

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