A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon

#7 Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery


         //published 1998//

So, as I mentioned, I was a bit disappointed with the fifth and sixth installments of this series.  However, I really enjoyed the first four books, and even though I found the stories/mysteries of #5 and #6 to be weak, I decided to give A Noble Radiance a go.  I figured that if she had three lemons in a row, then I would be justified in not completing the series (I hate not finishing series).  Thankfully, this book seemed to be back up to par with the first few books, so I will be continuing to travel with Guido, at least for a while longer…

This story starts with the discovery of a body, which is eventually determined to be that of the adult son of a rich, aristocratic family who was kidnapped and held for ransom two years earlier.  Now that it is a case of murder, Guido begins his own investigation.

In this book, all the things that I enjoy about the series – Guido himself, his wonderful family/interactions with them, the delightfully amoral Signorina Elettra, able to find any and all information Guido needs by the means of her amazing “modem,” Guido’s snarky right-hand man Vianello, and, of course, Guido’s deep, passionate love for Venice – were in play, and this time, they actually were woven together into a cohesive story centered around a decent mystery.  While Leon’s scorn for the government, organized religion, and capitalism were all evident, they were not the foundation of the tale.  I don’t mind personal views when they are used as leaven – it’s when they become the entire dough that they are wearing.

The one recurring character, who is purposely written to gain the reader’s dislike, is Guido’s supervisor, Vice-Questore Patta, who is inconsistent, vain, obsessed with power, a complete brown-noser, and just annoying overall.  Sometimes he’s a bit over the top for me – more of a puppet character whom Leon uses to emphasize the fact that people who are in charge of things like law enforcement are not interested in justice.  Patta is a roadblock whom Guido must maneuver around during every story, and that sometimes gets old for me because it just feels like Patta has the same lines in every book.

But still, on the whole, I enjoyed A Noble Radiance, and am planning to continue with the series for now.



‘Whatever comes,’ she said, ‘cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.’

-Sara Crewe in A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett