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Posts Tagged ‘Barrington Street Blues’

A Question of Belief: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010.

On August 6th, I caught the rebroadcast of Jian Ghomeshi’s interview with mystery writer P.D. James, now 90 years old. The interview was recorded in March in connection with the release of her latest book, Talking About Detective Fiction. James notes that there is plenty of evidence that suggests detective fiction is often favored by intellectuals with demanding lives, some of whom can be described as addicts of the genre! You can listen to the podcast at CBC.ca, the August 6th episode, starting about the 38 minute point.

I am pleased to include myself with other intellectuals, at least as identified by P.D.James, as a fan of detective fiction. I started reading Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie when I was twelve and have loved the genre ever since. One of the outstanding detective series I enjoy is Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti mysteries. Leon is an American, but has lived in Venice for many years. Her stories really capture the essence of life in Venice and give a view of the city that tourists might not see. A Question of Belief is the 19th outing for Brunetti.

Each of Leon’s mysteries focuses on a particular aspect of society and explores the related ethical boundaries. In this outing, the story follows two threads. One centers on charlatans, in this case a fortune-teller, who bilk customers out of large amounts of money through deception. The other thread looks at corruption in the court system and how difficult it may be to find a cure. As always, the characters are well-developed, the setting atmospheric. If you haven’t met Commissario Brunetti, you might start with one of his earlier adventures and you can then enjoy many hours with the Commissario and his family and colleagues.

Barrington Street Blues by Ann Emery. ECW Press, 2008.

While Donna Leon’s series has been around for quite a few years, Anne Emery’s series was new to me. It came to my attention when I read a review about her latest book, Children in the Morning. I backtracked and read one of her earlier Monty Collins mysteries. Collins is a Halifax lawyer. In Barrington Street Blues, Collins can’t feel comfortable with the police finding of suicide-murder after two men are found dead in an alley. He undertakes his own quiet investigation to track down the truth.

The Halifax legal scene should be familiar territory for Emery. She herself is a Dalhousie law graduate and Haligonian. This is a bit worrisome, because boy, Collins and his colleagues sure can drink! They show up for work after wild nights out, half asleep and hung over. Collins has family problems. He is separated from his wife Maura, and just when things seem to be improving between them, he learns that Maura is expecting another man’s baby. This didn’t strike me as the dire event that Collins makes it out to be, and I found some of his antics to be a bit over-the-top. Still, Barrington Street Blues is a satisfying mystery, nicely resolved. I plan on following up with another Collins outing.

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