Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon (Book Review)
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Set in Murano, Venice
(Veneto)
© 2006
 

Donna Leon

The Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Series

Through a Glass Darkly


Book Review

Springtime, Dante, and Glass Making Lore!

Donna Leon’s fifteenth mystery is set on the island of Murano where her hero, Commissario Guido Brunetti, investigates a murder at a glass furnace (fornace) there. Prior to the murder, Brunetti started snooping around Murano because of suspicion that one of the factory owners may be out to do bodily harm to his son-in-law, an environmental activist and good friend of Brunetti’s sidekick, Vianello.

Leon writes her novels in the third person, and thus, almost everything is seen through Brunetti’s thoughts and judgments. Through Brunetti’s eyes, we experience a wonderful springtime in Venice and superb descriptions of glassware and the age-old art of glass making. Leon has done a lot of research for this book which is a primer on glass making lore and the operation of the factories on Murano. There also is biting social commentary on the effects of industrial pollution on the lagoon by not only the glass factories but also by the chemical and oil industries in nearby Margera. As is often the case, the murderer is motivated by Leon’s old standbys--vanity, greed, and lust for power.

In a less serious vain, we get to enjoy selections from Dante’s Inferno, the antics of Signorina Elletra, the stupidity of Vice-Questore Patta, and the usual immersion in Italian language, food, and culture.

Leon introduced a new character in this book--Paolo Foa. He is the boat pilot for the Questura and plays a key role in the solution of the crime. Foa replaces Bonsuan who was killed in book ten. He’s an interesting guy and hopefully will appear in future books.

 - Carlo Vennarucci - May, 2006


Synopsis:  A luminous spring day in Venice, and Commissario Brunetti and his sidekick Vianello play hooky from the Questura along the Grand Canal to rescue Vianello's friend Marco, who has been arrested during an environmental protest. They get him released, only to be faced by the fury of the man's father-in-law, who owns a glass factory on Murano. The old man is seething with rage, and his daughter shares her fear with Brunetti that he will actually hurt her husband. But it is not Marco who has uncovered the guilty secret of the glass foundries, nor he whose body is found lying in front of the furnaces which burn at 1400 degrees C. night and day. The victim has left clues in a copy of Dante and Brunetti must enter an inferno to discover who is burning the land and fouling the waters of Venice's lagoon. A man is dead - but will politics and expedience prevent the killer from striking again?
(©William Heinemann)


Donna Leon Book List
Death at La Fenice | Death in a Strange Country | The Anonymous Venetian
A Venetian Reckoning | Acqua Alta | The Death of Faith | A Noble Radiance
Fatal Remedies | Friends in High Places | A Sea of Troubles
Wilful Behaviour | Uniform Justice | Doctored Evidence | Blood From A Stone
Through a Glass Darkly | 
Suffer the Little Children | The Girl of His Dreams | About Face
A Question of Belief | Drawing Conclusions | Beastly Things | The Golden Egg
By Its Cover | Falling in Love

Interviews & Articles
MHz Networks Interview with Donna Leon
April 2013 Interview on BBC's Meet the Author
Exclusive Donna Leon Interview
Donna Leon 2003 Interview - La Maga Abbandonata CD
2009 Interview by The Gypsy's Guide Blog
La Serenissima (December 2005)
An American in Venice (Washington Post)
Amazon.de Interview
Meet The Author 2005
March 2005 Interview
New Zealand Herald Interview
Conversation about Acqua Alta (Penguin)
German Interview Translated into English
Swiss EducETH Interview (July-2004)
A Patron of the Arts of Opera and Murder
Barnes & Noble Interview
BBC Radio 4
CBS Sunday Morning
At Lunch With Donna Leon