A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon: A review

This one was perfect. It was my comfort read and it provided everything that I needed just when I needed it. Visits with Commissario Brunetti and his families - both his own and his work family - are like that, but this one was even better than most.

It begins on the island of Pellestrina on the Venetian lagoon. Two clam fishermen, a father and son, have been found murdered on their fishing boat.  The older man's head had been caved in by a couple of brutal blows and the younger had been knifed in the stomach and bled to death. But that wasn't the end of it. In the middle of the night, the community was awakened by a loud boom as the boat's gas tank exploded and enveloped it in flames. The flames spread to the boats moored on either side and things looked very dicey for a while until the other fishermen managed to get things under control and extinguish the conflagration. When the neighbors finally realized that the owners of the burnt boat were missing, someone thought to dive and look into the cabin of the damaged boat and the bodies were found.

Of course, no one immediately called the police. Calling the police is not something that is routinely done on Pellestrina. At least they brought the bodies out because the crabs had already gone to work on them. Eventually, someone does notify the police and Brunetti and his sergeant, Vianello, head out to investigate. And thus begins their adventure.

This adventure will also directly involve the wonderful Signorina Elletra, super-secretary, who takes on the mantle of an undercover agent to try to break the wall of silence from the villagers about the murders and the men who were murdered. Elletra had relatives on and ties to Pellestrina where she often spends summer vacations and she volunteered her services. Brunetti tried to dissuade her, but she is effectively her own boss.

All of this culminates in a horrendous storm on the Adriatic where boats are tossed about like matchsticks and for a while, it seems like this may be the last adventure of Commissario Brunetti. He survives, but sadly, one of the recurring characters readers have come to care about does not. Sigh.

Nevertheless, all of that is in service of the plot and it is a very good, well-executed plot. The action is crisp, the likable characters are really likable, and the hatable characters are deliciously hatable. Really, what more can one ask of the mystery genre?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


  1. Great! Near the end of my illness I went for the comfort too: Harry Potter #6, Daniel Silva, Sara Paretsky. I wonder if these authors know how much good they do.

    1. I hope they do. Sometimes they are better than medicine.

  2. Wow, another winner from Guido Brunetti! It's good that you found solace in a great comfort read after your stay at the hospital.

    1. This one was either really, really good or it just managed to hit the spot that I needed at that time. Either way it was tremendously enjoyable.

    2. Yes, sometimes a book comes exactly at the right time. :-)


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