Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon

I am reading the Donna Leon's novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti out of order, getting whatever I can find on audiobooks read by David Collaci. I imagine Collaci now as the voice of the Venetian commissario, and greatly enjoy hearing Italian personal and place names flow from his lips. Venice, where people, streets, and buildings have such beautiful names, is now higher on my travel priorities list.

I know many libraries shelve the Commissario Brunetti books in their mystery sections, but I think I would rather call Leon's works novels that include mysteries. I just finished Suffer the Little Children, in which the identities of people who commit questionable acts are known right away. Gustavo Pedrolli, a pediatrician, admits rather early that he bought a child, and everyone agrees that the carabinieri, a sort of Italian swat force, used excessive and unnecessary force in arresting the doctor. The doctor lies in the hospital for weeks, most charges are dropped, and the case seems to fade away. Some readers may at a point in the middle of the book wonder where Leon is going with her story, but the commissario is still curious and slowly pieces together the rather surprising reasons the carabinieri stormed into the sleeping doctor's bedroom.

Leon's story is especially rich with her descriptions of Italian social classes, the city's institutions, and, of course, food. There is always a variety of classic Venetian dishes, desserts, and Italian wines consumed in the leisurely telling of Brunetti's cases. I often hardly care whether the case is solved. Putting the solution off lets me stay with the commissario and his delightful family longer. Sadly, the books do end, but there is a good supply of them. Look for them at your library.

Leon, Donna. Suffer the Little Children. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007. 264p. ISBN 9780871139603.

7 compact discs: BBC Audio, 2007. 8 hrs 14 min. ISBN 9781602830370.

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