Sunday, May 10, 2015

Falling in Love by Donna Leon

Falling in Love: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon --- 264 pages

The 24th novel in Donna Leon's best selling mysteries series reunites Brunetti with opera diva Flavia Petrelli, who was featured in Leon's first mystery, Death at La Fenice (1992) and in her fifth, Aqua Alta (1996). In that first outing, Brunetti proved that Flavia, then a young and rising singer, had not poisoned a renowned German conductor at the famous Venetian opera house, Teatro La Fenice.

A few years later, Brunetti was able to clear Flavia's then lover of a charge of murder and help Flavia retain custody of her two young children during her subsequent divorce from her vengeful husband.

Now after many years in which Flavia has established herself as a star in the international world of opera, she has returned to Venice and La Fenice to sing the title role in Puccini's Tosca. Brunetti and his wife Paola have tickets for one of the first performances, and go back afterwards to renew their acquaintance with Flavia.

A few nights later she has dinner with them and Paola's parents, and Brunetti notices Flavia's extreme unease. She admits that she is upset by the relentless attentions of an anonymous admirer who has been following her across Europe, showering her with yellow roses at every performance. Then in Venice masses of flowers also appeared in her dressing room at the theater and even worse, in the hall outside the door of the apartment where she is staying.

When a young singer whom Flavia has encouraged in passing is suddenly attacked and injured on her way home from the theater, Brunetti realizes that Flavia is being stalked by someone dangerously --- perhaps murderously --- obsessed with her.

A fascinating look behind the scenes at the uneasy demands of fame and the strange relationship between celebrities and devoted fans. Plus, all the pleasures of the Venetian setting --- at one memorable point, Paola observes, "We live in Paradise, don't we?" contrasting Brunelli's robust family life with the politics and bureaucracy of his job.

Click HERE to read a review from Publishers' Weekly.

Click HERE to read a review from Kirkus Reviews.

Click HERE to read a review from the blog Books to the Ceiling.

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