Donna Leon is the author of the international bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and has lived in Venice for 30 years.
One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem --- the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist.
For many years, Donna Leon has written essays for European publications. Collected here are the best of these: over 50 funny, charming, passionate and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to the troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. She shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains.
Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor shop-keeping violation committed by the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Then Brunetti’s wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaner has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him. Brunetti begins to investigate and is surprised when he finds nothing on the man. As far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed.
Caterina Pellegrini, a native Venetian with a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, goes to Manchester, England to pursue her career. However, Caterina jumps at the opportunity of a position back home --- the job is an unusual one. Two locked trunks containing the papers of a baroque composer have been discovered --- the composer died childless, yet now two Venetians, descendents of his cousins, claim inheritance. Caterina must examine any enclosed papers to discover the “testamentary disposition” of the composer.
When the body of man is found in a canal, damaged by the tides, carrying no wallet, and wearing only one shoe, Commissario Guido Brunetti has little to work with. Perhaps with the help of Signorina Elettra, Brunetti and Inspector Vianello can identify the man and understand why someone wanted him dead.
Late one night, Commissario Guido Brunetti is called away from dinner to investigate the death of a widow in her apartment. Though there are some signs of a struggle, the medical examiner rules that she died of a heart attack. It seems there is nothing for Brunetti to investigate. But he can’t shake the feeling that something, or someone, may have triggered her heart attack.