The Temptation of Forgiveness

The Temptation of Forgiveness

In the twenty-seventh novel in Donna Leon's bestselling mystery series, a suspicious accident leads Commissario Guido Brunetti to uncover a longstanding scam with disturbing unintended consequencesThe memorable characters and Venetian drama that have long captivated Donna Leon’s many readers are on full display in The Temptation of Forgiveness. Surprised, if not dismayed,...

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Title:The Temptation of Forgiveness
Author:Donna Leon
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The Temptation of Forgiveness Reviews

  • LJ

    First Sentence: Having left the apartment smack on time so as to arrive at the Questura on time for a meeting with his superior, Brunetti found himself seated toward the rear of a Number One vaporetto, glancing idly through a copy of that morning’s Gazzettino.

    Commissario Guido Brunetti is approached by a co-worker of his wife asking his help in stopping the people she thinks may be selling drugs to her son. Unfortunately, there is really nothing he can do. When her husband, Tullio Gasparini, is

    First Sentence: Having left the apartment smack on time so as to arrive at the Questura on time for a meeting with his superior, Brunetti found himself seated toward the rear of a Number One vaporetto, glancing idly through a copy of that morning’s Gazzettino.

    Commissario Guido Brunetti is approached by a co-worker of his wife asking his help in stopping the people she thinks may be selling drugs to her son. Unfortunately, there is really nothing he can do. When her husband, Tullio Gasparini, is found at the foot of a bridge with a severe head injury, it opens the way to a possible connection. But nothing is simple. It takes the help of his colleague Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, his boss’s secretary, the remarkable Signorina Elettra, and the reading of Sophocles’ Antigone, to reach a solution.

    A map! All gratitude goes to publishers who include a map. It not only orients the reader but helps one feel part of the story.

    It takes no time at all to be reminded why Leon is such a popular and successful author. No prologue here. Instead, one is sitting next to Brunetti in what quickly goes from a normal commute to one filled with tension. But there is still that touch of the familiar with which we can all identify—“Brunetti turned and looked at the man sitting on his right, but saw that he was so rapt by whatever showed on the screen of his phone that he would not have noticed seraphs had they descended and flown in close formation on either side of the boat.”

    Leon’s introduction of Brunetti’s boss is familiar to most who have worked in the corporate world—“He seemed busier than he was; he never missed the opportunity to claim for himself any praise given to the organization for which he worked; he had a black belt in shifting blame or responsibility for failure to shoulders other than his own.” While it is his bosses’ secretary, Signorina Elletra Zorzi one can’t help but truly admire, it is Brunetti himself who makes loyal fans of her readers—"Why are you always so kind to him, Signore?’ Signorina Elettra asked. Brunetti had to consider this: He had never given conscious thought to how to respond to Alvise. ‘Because he needs it,’ he said.”

    Leon’s metaphors are to be savoured, and Brunetti’s definition of the law makes one think—'“It’s not important what either of us thinks about the law.’ ‘Then what is important?’ ‘That innocent people be protected. That’s what laws are meant to do,” he said.”’ Every word is a gift.

    It is nice, though sad, to learn more about Brunetti’s background. It also clarifies the way by which he reached one of his views. The scenes of Brunetti, especially those with his family, are so relatable and real. He is a cultured man who comfortably uses words such as “metonym,” and reads Antigone. How refreshing is his attitude toward guns, and how radical a cultural difference. Being in Italy, there is always food such as a simple lunch of celery root soup and veal meatballs wrapped in speck [a dense, ruddy ham].

    Inspector Claudia Griffoni is a wonderful addition and, in some ways, foil to Brunetti. As opposed to his wife Paoli, Griffoni shares his world but sees it from a woman’s perspective—“…men explaining their violence towards women and expecting people to believe they really didn’t have a choice. …And, if I might add, only men are stupid enough to believe it because they feel the same desire to control women…”

    Leon’s descriptions are exacting, taking one beyond a sense of place, to a sense of being there. She provides small life lessons, her humor subtle and unforced. It is not easy to convey emotion, to truly make one feel that which is felt by the characters, yet Leon has the ability to do just that without going over the top.

    The differences between Italian and US law is remarkable and eye-opening. In some ways, it is difficult to say which is better. Leon makes you think, feel, and question.

    “The Temptation of Forgiveness is a mystery, yes. But more so, it is about relationships, desperation, and greed. There are no winners here.

    THE TEMPTATAION OF FORGIVENESS (Pol Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-Venice, Italy-Contemp) - Ex

    Leon, Donna – 27th in series

    Atlantic Monthly Press – March 2017

  • Kathy

    Challenging device in use while out of country, but must note this may be a favorite of the series. How beautiful it can be to enter the thinking of a loved character as well as the serenity and security of his personal life.

    Can not conquer itsy keyboard. Update after return home. Great read!

  • Jeanette

    Guido Brunetti is following the most usual police work for any city. It's an assault with resultant severe to possibly fatal injury to a man who has fallen over a railing and down a bridged overpass. He (the victim) is a husband too to one of Paola's teaching co-workers, the Professor of Architect Design. Other than a domestic (and could this BE one)- it's the most common thieving grab or revenge or drunken brawl type of occurrence. How did he fall? Why are there marks on his wrist as if from fi

    Guido Brunetti is following the most usual police work for any city. It's an assault with resultant severe to possibly fatal injury to a man who has fallen over a railing and down a bridged overpass. He (the victim) is a husband too to one of Paola's teaching co-workers, the Professor of Architect Design. Other than a domestic (and could this BE one)- it's the most common thieving grab or revenge or drunken brawl type of occurrence. How did he fall? Why are there marks on his wrist as if from finger nails-those grade of scratches? This victim's history is straight arrow and the most diligent type of family man and working citizen. His wife and two children are stricken with worry and grief.

    It's not my favorite Brunetti but it is also far from the most twisted and bizarre or other rather "out there" couple of episodes somewhere in the middle of this long series which seemed manufactured for fiction and improbable all the way to upmost impossibly. This November placed sequence seems like it could very well occur. It also holds some delicious quotes and context for the fixed "knowledge" of what Italians connote as their government, its purpose, and the actual, real every day, effectiveness of its role actually playing in modern individual life. It sets a stage in which all are actors. And no less than within the posturings of the accountants, lawyers, teachers, police, doctors and pharmacists. All of these professions are represented with sublime personal individual characterizations in this Brunetti #27.

    Leon has some extremely sharp two or 3 word phrasings too. Just delicious. One of them was about a psychic smile. I'd add a few but I had to bring the book back earlier, another was waiting for it.

    Paola cooks and reads in bed a lot in this one but also holds some interesting conversations. Some include the kids. And Raffi is eating all the time- do I remember that phase! In fact, both of the kids have time to add some opinions about having the 2nd or 3rd home for vacations. Seeing their entire lifestyle and travel with grandparents etc.- I thought that those were 4 to 5 star additions. Paola/ Leon gets in her usual anti-religion blips- but also seems more patient with Guido's schedule than the usual. Maybe it is because she is going to lunch or out for a meal instead anyway?

    But Scarpa and Patta are prime from the get-go in this one. Patta is even NICE to Guido. Watch out! Elletra has more than turned a corner on "permissions". I note in other books' reviews for this series how all think she is so feisty but good will/ high relativity to what's kind of a tech guru "good" guy. And I always disagreed with that view. Here I see her for herself. She's sneaky yes, but she is also shifty. Her loyalty shifts, all shifts. And I have never viewed her as always being on Guido's "point man" spot. I think Elletra is always out for Elletra. This book shows how deep that goes. Can we say "leaker" and "illegal"? If you can manage it, she will- rules little bother her. Everything is relative- the "eyes" of majority Italian gone the most flowing to individual purposes may be most represented within our flower loving secretary's example. Under a demure smiling facade, at that. Whereas Guido is a "rule of law" man and barely admits any exceptions to resultant earned consequences for crossing them. Here especially, with regrets at times and here it will be large regret, it's STILL to the authorities /prison that the perp is ultimately delivered. Regardless of "empathy"!

    90% of the book is interviews with suspects, witnesses, or back history information suppliers. Who is undermining the government's tax shares or profit shares from the RX or the illegal drug or high end cosmetic trade? Are they all entwined. Which are underground economies and free from the government "control" entities? Or are all? And why does no one report cheating or "on the side" issues of supply lack or being robbed to the police?

    Some of the meals sound scrumptious- especially near the beginning of the book with the cauliflower based dinner.

    It's a good case path. The plotting is excellent and I had no idea that the real perp was who it turned out to be. That's unusual. It was also quite the enjoyable read. Pages and pages of Venice directional movements (and A VERY DICEY FOG), and locale remarks of its birth to now citizens' "eyes". Plus we have a Naples born and raised to parry those observations as Guido's police partner. And she is forever stating how inferior Venice's coffee etc. are. and making snappy quips. Loved it. She does the "good cop" sublimely. Also Guido reads the papers more than usual (while on watch) and there is ultimate Italian comment upon the monstrosity in the lagoon which is never going to work for the purposes it was built.

    There is a 5 star portion about the inherent quality of GREED that describes what is cored in the Venetian psyche for centuries re material things for "ownership" and money. And some priceless comparisons to family importance too as compared to the "family as idol" Southern Italian paradigm.

    Very slow moving book but exactly how I want a Guido book to be- and ALL ARE ACTORS. Guido is especially in this one. He plays the "bad cop". The only thing I felt was missing was the animals. None in this book. Hand gestures and eye glances with chin pointing - twice more than average.

    Best series around for the locale / emotive sense/ sharp intellect of the "unsaid". Absolutely.

  • Jim Angstadt

    The Temptation of Forgiveness (Commissario Brunetti #27)

    Donna Leon

    The subtitle: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

    This is a very enjoyable series. Not so much as a mystery, but more about life, it's meaning, our ruminations about it. When good or bad things happen, how do/should we deal with it? The title speaks to this question. When something is "wrong" but it was done for a "right" reason, we can be uneasy about our path forward.

  • Andrew Smith

    This is the 27th book I’ve read in this delightful series, so by now I know what to expect. The usual cast will be present and there will be a crime – of course, it’s a crime fiction series – and there will be social comment too. The crime sometimes plays quite a small part in the overall piece and at other times it’s at the forefront of the tale. Here I was over half way through and I still wasn’t sure if a crime had actually been committed. In time it became clear that one had, but here the il

    This is the 27th book I’ve read in this delightful series, so by now I know what to expect. The usual cast will be present and there will be a crime – of course, it’s a crime fiction series – and there will be social comment too. The crime sometimes plays quite a small part in the overall piece and at other times it’s at the forefront of the tale. Here I was over half way through and I still wasn’t sure if a crime had actually been committed. In time it became clear that one had, but here the illegal act itself is really just a backdrop to the author’s thoughts and ruminations on a whole host of issues facing people living in the Veneto region today.

    The regular cast comprises Guido Brunetti (Commissario of Police in Venice), his family, his boss and his secretary and Guido’s long time henchman and colleague Inspector Lorenzo Vianello. In this episode, Guido is visited at the Questora by a colleague of his wife (a professor at the university) who expresses concerns regarding her son. His behaviour is worrying her and she believes he may be taking drugs. She wants to know if Brunetti can look into the matter and, if it turns out to be what she suspects, apprehend the drug dealer(s) responsible. A little later the professor’s husband is found injured at the foot of a bridge, late at night. Are these matters related?

    It seems that in Venice there’s always time for a coffee and a wonder around the city, so Guido engages himself in both activities whilst he contemplates the situation and asks a few questions of people who may know a thing or two about what might be going on. All of this takes some time and the story is slow to develop. In the meantime, Leon engages us on a range of topics that clearly trouble Venetians today. For example:

    1. The MOSE project (short for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) which seeks to provide a barrier to prevent Venice from flooding. I happened to see a documentary on this a little while ago and it’s a truly massive project that’s been in progress for years. But there does seem to be some scepticism that it will actually achieve what it’s designed to - and the cost has run into billions of Euros.

    2. The feeling that the public no longer trusts the police – the feeling, in fact, that the

    . Brunetti himself seems to be struggling with this thought, even to the extent that he is having doubts regarding the efficacy of some of the laws he’s employed to enforce.

    3. The fear that tourism has totally taken over the city, with giant cruise ships passing through the lagoon and local shops now selling cheap glass imports from China as opposed to locally made products. Guido’s wife is prone to ask

    as a demonstration of the sort of practical issue exposed by these changes.

    I do like the time I spend with my Venetian friends each year, as the next episode in this series is released. This may not be the most gripping book Leon has released but it is intelligent, thought provoking and heart warming. Long may the series continue.

  • Helen

    Love the characters as always and the lovely descriptions of Venice. BUT, the series seems to be wearing out.

    Where would Brunetti be without Signorina Elettra and her computer skills?

  • EAK

    I’m a Brunetti addict, but sometimes the endless detail is just padding. I think Leon wants the reader to proceed at the same measured. thoughtful pace as Brunetti, hence the noting of every hand movement, sideways glance, sitting posture for every character.

    Furthermore, while I once found Elettra’s hacking clever and comical, we are now living In a world where it’s all too close to home. To me, she has become sinister, not a dea ex machina.

  • Marilyn

    I have been very fond of this series, but this was not up to par in my estimation. The characters seemed flawed, the mystery was somewhat chaotic and confusing, and the ending was abrupt. Some parts of it were rather boring while others were less amusing or interesting than the Leon I know and love. It still kept my attention and Brunetti found his answers, but it seemed as though everyone involved was a bit cranky and/or argumentative. It was an average, but not redemptive, read.

  • Diana

    Vídeo review aquí

    el 23 marzo 2018 :)

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