Through a Glass, Darkly (Commissario Brunetti #15) by Donna Leon

It’s been a while since I’ve read something that gave me the opportunity to write a truly scathing review here. So if nothing else, I guess I should thank Donna Leon for writing this horribly ill-conceived addition to the Guido Brunetti series, and thereby giving me ample material to rake this book over the coals.

This is my third Leon mystery, which I guess is a good thing: if this were the first Brunetti story I’d read, it would be enough to convince me that I should never pick up anything Donna Leon wrote ever again.

This book should not have been written as a Guido Brunetti mystery. It’s not even a detective novel – it’s a half-assed environmental thriller that fails to thrill, or indeed cause any emotion other than mild annoyance at the fact that the characters are discussing pollution in Murano, again. It’s true that there is a murder, so I guess you can technically classify this as detective fiction, but that doesn’t mean there’s any actual detecting going on. Take note, Leon: a corpse does not a detective novel make. John le Carre already did this ecological-thriller schtick with The Constant Gardener, and he did it better. (I say smugly, having only seen the movie)

The pace is plodding, the story is boring, the characters are banal, and ends not with a bang, but a deeply disappointing and anticlimactic whimper.

Commissario Brunetti deserved better.

Verdict: one out of five stars

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