By Its Cover

By Its Cover

Book - 2014
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Donna Leon's critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has attracted readers the world over with the beauty of its setting, the humanity of its characters, and its fearlessness in exploring politics, morality, and contemporary Italian culture. In the pages of Leon's novels, the beloved conversations of the Brunetti family have drawn on topics of art and literature, but books are at the heart of this novel in a way they never have been before.

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem—the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn't exist.

As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent years reading at the library turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9780802122643
Branch Call Number: MF LEON
Characteristics: 237 pages : illustration ; 24 cm


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Jul 05, 2017

One of the three of the NYT Literary Tour of Italy's Libraries

Sep 11, 2015

Books written by Donna Leon are about Italian culture and relationships; solving the mystery is secondary. "By Its Cover" deals with the theft and vandalization of rare books.

Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries celebrate life which is a welcome change from mysteries that dwell on violent murder. I would rate "By Its Cover" at 4.0 stars.

SFPL_ExcelsiorLib Aug 12, 2015

If you've been to Venice, you'll feel like you are back there. If you haven't been yet, you'll want to go after reading Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti mysteries. This particular one involves stolen and vandalized rare books.

Feb 25, 2015

Set in Venice, this series of detective stories are wonderful. A lot goes on beyond the case this detective works on. The author obviously loves this city, warts and all. The characters are well rounded, the plots interesting and the 'colour' fascinating.

Jan 31, 2015


She could have done so much with the story but it falls flat.

Jan 14, 2015

You can never go wrong with a Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery. If like me, you are a librarian and going on a cruise from Venice, this book has special meaning. I’d never thought about how the wake caused by those huge cruise ships impact the fragile Venice buildings. Granted cruise ships are only mentioned in passing, but that’s going to have a big impact on my as my huge cruise ship leaves port. Leon does such a good job creating her characters, both the ones that appear in every story and the ones who just appear in one. You want to visit Venice? Leon really gives you a good feel what life in like in this magical city.

Sep 29, 2014

I've read all of Donna Leon's Brunetti series and love them. I appreciated this one for the wit and social commentary which Leon does so well. However, this book seemed to be about 100 pages short of a complete mystery. The story ended so abruptly that it seemed that Leon got bored with the story herself!

Sep 28, 2014

I just could not get into this book and gave up about a third of the way through.

Sep 01, 2014

I've loved Donna Leon's previous Brunetti books, but this one started slow, painfully slow. I didn't mind learning from her about very old books and the thefts thereof, but nothing much happened in the plot for the first half of the book. Then when it did, the details seemed to get str-e-t-c-hed out too much. And as other readers have noted, the ending was abrupt.

Usually I really like the parts of her books that include other police officers, and also Brunetti's family, but in this one all those parts feel patched on. None of the characters seem real, which isn't like Leon.

If this'd been the first Leon mystery I'd read, it'd be my last.

Aug 17, 2014

As usual, Brunetti's boss wants to accept the obvious suspect when pages are stolen from books in a prestigious rare-book Venetian library. And as usual, Brunetti looks beyond the obvious. The obvious suspect, the man who looked at those books for weeks, has disappeared--and didn't exist in the first place. When the old man who spent his days in the library reading theology is murdered, Brunetti must look in another direction. Again, when he finds the solution, he must decide whether to let the law run its course, or do the moral thing.

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