Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon

The Jewels of ParadiseMystery
Goodreads Summary:

Donna Leon has won heaps of critical praise and legions of fans for her best-selling mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. With The Jewels of Paradise, Leon takes readers beyond the world of the Venetian Questura in her first standalone novel.
Caterina Pellegrini is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she’s had to leave home to pursue her career. With a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, she lands in Manchester, England. Manchester, however, is no Venice. When Caterina gets word of a position back home, she jumps at the opportunity.

The job is an unusual one. After nearly three centuries, two locked trunks, believed to contain the papers of a baroque composer have been discovered. Deeply-connected in religious and political circles, the composer died childless; now two Venetians, descendants of his cousins, each claim inheritance. Caterina’s job is to examine any enclosed papers to discover the testamentary disposition” of the composer. But when her research takes her in unexpected directions she begins to wonder just what secrets these trunks may hold. From a masterful writer, The Jewels of Paradise is a superb novel, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history and greed.

I love the Commissario Brunetti books by Donna Leon so when I say The Jewels of Paradise audio CD on a recent trip to the library I immediately picked it up.  I was not disappointed.

The book is filled with wonderful characters.  Caterian is the main character but there are other scattered in the story that add to the richness of the tale.  I only met Caterian’s sister, a nun, through their emails but she comes across fully developed.  The Romanian, a scholar who is seldom sober, is a very nice touch.  The lawyer is one thing one time and another later.  The cousins are about what I expected.  Then there are the historical characters that are exposed as Caterian does her research.  Leon uses them to draw some insightful parallels between today and the past.

Then there is the story.  I am not that familiar with the world of baroque music but that did not keep me from enjoying the book.  The past and the present are woven together in a way that keeps the story moving.  There were plenty of surprises as I listened.  For me finding out what the Jewels of Paradise actually were was a biggest surprise.  I did love how that fact helped bring a very nice end to the story. 

I was left sadden that this is a stand-alone book.  I would love to meet the characters in a future novel.

AudioGo released the recording of The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon in 2012.

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