Noble Radiance by
pbk out January 99
Donna Leon's Italy is no romantic paradise of pasta, pesto and medieval frescoes. It's a flesh and blood place that is prey to the problems that plague modern life everywhere. One of her particular talents lies in taking a specific issue and translating it into human terms. The reader never feels lectured but by the end of the book, we have been thoroughly informed.
A Noble Radiance is every bit as rooted in the here and now as her earlier half dozen novels featuring the Venetian policeman Guido Brunetti, and it is every inch as evocative and elusively atmospheric as its predecessors. It starts in a deserted garden in the Dolomites, where the new German owner's renovations uncover a body, swiftly identified by an ornate gold ring, as the son and heir of a Venetian nobleman, kidnapped two years previously.
The Lorenzonis are far from the idle rich. They are a powerful mercantile family with connections throughout Europe and deep into the heart of the former Soviet Union. Although the dead man's father would have happily paid a ransom for his son, the kidnappers never followed up their initial demands. Now the family must face the terrible truth about their son's fate.
But as usual with Leon, nothing is quite as it appears on the surface. Her stories are as deceptive as that old painted jade, Venice herself, and before Brunetti can reach an answer that is as unsettling as the crime itself, he must learn how to think laterally, not literally. A Noble Radiance is a welcome return to the top of her form for Leon's many fans.
- Gold Dagger winner & creator of Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan & Tony Hill)