Unto Us a Son Is Given - (The Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries) by Donna Leon (Hardcover) (2024)

About the Book

For the 28th novel in Donna Leon's bestselling mystery series, the apparent indiscretion of an elderly family friend involves a reluctant Commissario Guido Brunetti . . . until the sudden natural death of his friend sets in motion a murder

Book Synopsis

"Your situation is always ambiguous, isn't it, Guido?", his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier, observes of Donna Leon's soulful detective, Guido Brunetti, at the beginning of her superb 28th Brunetti novel, Unto Us A Son Is Given. "The world we live in makes that necessary," Brunetti presciently replies. Count Falier was urging his Venetian son-in-law to investigate, and preferably intervene in, the seemingly innocent plan of the Count's best friend, the elderly Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejada, to adopt a much younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws this man would then be heir to Gonzalo's entire fortune, a prospect Gonzalo's friends find appalling. For his part, Brunetti wonders why the old man, a close family friend, can't be allowed his pleasure in peace.

And yet, what seems innocent on the Venetian surface can cause tsunamis beneath. Gonzalo unexpectedly, and literally, drops dead on the street, and one of his friends just arrived in Venice for the memorial service, is strangled in her hotel room--having earlier sent Gonzalo an email saying "We are the only ones who know you cannot do this," referring to the adoption. Now with an urgent case to solve, Brunetti reluctantly untangles the long-hidden mystery in Gonzalo's life that ultimately led to murder--a resolution that brings him way more pain than satisfaction.

Once again, Donna Leon brilliantly plumbs the twists and turns of the human condition, reuniting us with some of crime fiction's most memorable and enduring characters.

Review Quotes

Praise for Unto Us a Son Is Given:

A New York Times Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A Library Journal Bestseller (Mystery)
Named One of the Year's Best Crime Novels by Booklist
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense)
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Crime Reads

"Venetians love to gossip, Donna Leon advises us in Unto Us a Son Is Given, her latest mystery featuring that most compassionate of policemen, Guido Brunetti, commissario di polizia. There's bound to be talk when Gonzalo Rodriguez de Tejeda, the rich Spanish godfather of Brunetti's wife, Paola, adopts his lover and makes the young man his legal heir . . . This cop is neither jaded nor callous, and he has that rare quality Italians would call 'un cuore d'oro, ' a heart of gold."--Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

"Here is what makes the [Commissario Brunetti series] so special; Leon invests time in conversations. Often an entire chapter is a talk between two people that seems to be about nothing, but you are riveted to the page, wanting to here it. This is true in her latest book, Unto Us a Son Is Given . . . The books are interesting because of the crimes, the revelations of who really does all the work at the police station, the beauty of Venice with all of its traditions and charms, but it is the conversation over dinner or coffee or wine that hold everything together, and in this Leon excels, making ordinary words most extraordinary."--Ashton Gazette

"Redolent, as always, with the sights, smells, sounds, and mealtimes of the water-immersed city . . . In Leon's latest, a pleasantly deceptive lull--imposed by contemplative discussions of familial and non-familial obligations as well as a telling reading of Euripides's The Trojan Women--is dissolved with deadly force."--Seattle Review of Books

"Donna Leon's latest Commissario Brunetti mystery is an intriguing look at love [and] family life. There is a mystery and a murder here, but they appear very late in this intriguing yarn . . . The real focus is on the intricate social realities and old rich families of Leon's beautiful, mysterious and labyrinthine Venice."--Providence Journal

"Donna Leon is a master at creating a sense of place; as a result, Venice shines through the pages of this novel. I can think of no other fictional detective with the heart and soul of Guido Brunetti, who is devoted to his family, his job, and his city. With vivid and intriguing narrative, Leon brings the reader right into the minds of the characters, and each one is more interesting than the next. Coupled with unexpected twists and turns Unto Us a Son Is Given doesn't disappoint."--Tulsa Book Review

"Another excellent mystery . . . If you are looking for a mystery series with lots of atmosphere and wonderful characters, you should try them. Donna Leon makes you feel like you are there, having a glass of white wine in a little bar--in Venice!"--Concord Insider

"Once again, Leon transforms what might have been a straightforward mystery into something much richer and more resonant--in this case, a meditation on love, loss, family, and prejudice . . . Many crime novels place domestic story lines alongside crime plots, but Leon masterfully blends the two, enhancing our understanding of both . . . Far more than a whodunit, the real subject of this novel (and Leon's work in general) is what we all do to one another. Like Louise Penny, Leon has cultivated an utterly devoted audience, ever anxious to get to know more about her characters."--Booklist (starred review)

"Each year brings the delight of a new Commissario Guido Brunetti novel, and this twenty-eighth book featuring the ever-reflective Venetian detective does not disappoint . . . As always, the skillful Leon weaves deft plot threads . . . Along the way, murder and perfidy abound, providing Brunetti with numerous investigative challenges. Ultimately, Brunetti muses about the profound nature of family ties and the danger of family secrets, inviting readers to do likewise."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Unto Us a Son Is Given takes a familiar detective and his wife and adds intriguing layers to their backstory. Fans of other quiet mystery authors, like Louise Penny or Jacqueline Winspear, are sure to enjoy Brunetti's soul-searching. And, as always, Brunetti's introspection is framed by the sights and tastes of Venice, which Leon brings to life."--Shelf Awareness

"Leon gives her readers a murder, a mystery or three, and a great deal of other wonderful things in this twenty-eighth installment, which is arguably her best to date . . . Leon makes it look easy and continues to top herself time after time after time. Brunetti is an immediately likable and unforgettable protagonist . . . Even at this late date, Leon remains amazing. With each installment of the series, she continues to find and reveal new layers to her familiar characters and to Venice, which is full of quiet and enjoyable surprises . . .You can start with any volume, but if you begin with Unto Us a Son Is Given, you'll want to devote time to reading the backlist. You won't be able to help yourself."--Book Reporter

"Leon is a multifaceted, effortlessly assured writer. Her plots are innovative and layered, her characters have developed and matured over the course of a lengthy series, and her prose is imbued with wit and compassion on virtually every page. If you are a fan of Louise Penny (and who isn't?), Leon should be on your short list."--BookPage

"As usual the mystery takes a back seat to Leon's beautiful writing and the pleasure of spending time with Brunetti and company . . . Readers can trust her to guide them safely to dry land."--Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries:

"[Leon] has never become perfunctory, never failed to give us vivid portraits of people and of Venice, never lost her fine, disillusioned indignation."--Ursula K. LeGuin, New York Times

"You become so wrapped up in these compelling characters . . . Each one is better than the last."--Louise Erdrich, PBS NewsHour

"Donna Leon's Venetian mysteries never disappoint, calling up the romantic sights and sounds of La Serenissima even as they acquaint us with the practical matters that concern the city's residents."--Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

"Few detective writers create so vivid, inclusive, and convincing a narrative as Donna Leon . . . One of the most exquisite and subtle detective series ever."--Washington Post

"The sophisticated but still moral Brunetti, with his love of food and his loving family, proves a worthy custodian of timeless values and verities."--Wall Street Journal

"[Leon] uses the relatively small and crime-free canvas of Venice for rips about Italian life, sexual styles and--best of all--the kind of ingrown business and political corruption that seems to lurk just below the surface."--Chicago Tribune

"Hers is an unusually potent co*cktail of atmosphere and event."--New Yorker

"For those who know Venice, or want to, Brunetti is a well-versed escort to the nooks, crannies, moods, and idiosyncrasies of what residents call La Serenissima, the Serene One . . . Richly atmospheric, [Leon] introduces you to the Venice insiders know."--USA Today

"Donna Leon is the undisputed crime fiction queen . . . Leon's ability to capture the social scene and internal politics [of Venice] is first-rate."--Baltimore Sun

"Terrific at providing, through its weary but engaging protagonist, a strong sense of the moral quandaries inherent in Italian society and culture."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Brunetti is one of the most attractive policemen in crime fiction today."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"As always, Brunetti is highly attuned to (and sympathetic toward) the failings of the humans around him."--Seattle Times

"Leon's writing trembles with true feeling."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Leon started out with offhand, elegant excellence, and has simply kept it up."--Guardian

"Compassionate yet incorruptible, Brunetti knows that true justice doesn't always end in an arrest or a trial."--Publishers Weekly

"[Brunetti] is a superb police detective--calm, deliberate, and insightful as he investigates with a reflective thoroughness."--Library Journal

"The appeal of Guido Brunetti, the hero of Donna Leon's long-running Venetian crime series, comes not from his shrewdness, though he is plenty shrewd, nor from his quick wit. It comes, instead, from his role as an Everyman . . . [his life is] not so different from our own days at the office or nights around the dinner table. Crime fiction for those willing to grapple with, rather than escape, the uncertainties of daily life."--Booklist

"It's difficult to describe the work of Donna Leon other than in superlatives . . . An annual blessing, a fine series--one of the finest (see what I mean) in the mystery (or any) genre . . . There are few reading joys that equal cracking the binding of a new Leon novel . . . If you have not experienced this world, so exotic and yet so familiar, you can pick up literally any volume in the series and begin a comfortable entry into Brunetti's Venice."--BookReporter

"One of the most popular crime series worldwide . . . While the Brunetti books, with their abundance of local color and gastronomic treats, appeal to the fans of the traditional mystery, Leon has something darker and deeper in mind."--Life Sentence

"No author has delved into Venetian society quite like Leon, whose insider's view shows how crime seeps throughout the city, touching all strata of society."--Mystery Scene

About the Author

Donna Leon is the author of the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Donna Leon lived in Venice for many years and now divides her time between Venice and Switzerland.

Unto Us a Son Is Given - (The Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries) by  Donna Leon (Hardcover) (2024)


What is the order of the Donna Leon books? ›

Donna Leon Books Overview
  • Death at La Fenice. ...
  • Death in a Strange Country. ...
  • The Anonymous Venetian / Dressed for Death. ...
  • Venetian Reckoning / Death and Judgment. ...
  • Acqua Alta / Death in High Water. ...
  • The Death of Faith / Quietly in Their Sleep. ...
  • A Noble Radiance. ...
  • Fatal Remedies.

What is the synopsis of Dressed for Death Donna Leon? ›

Commissario Guido Brunetti's hopes for a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera - a body so badly beaten the face is completely unrecognizable. Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the corpse but is met with a wall of silence.

What is Donna Leon first book? ›

In Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon's first novel in the Commissario Brunetti series, readers were introduced to the glamorous and cut-throat world of opera and to one of Italy's finest living sopranos, Flavia Petrelli – then a suspect in the poisoning of a renowned German conductor.

Do you need to read Brunetti books in order? ›

Marisa Wright It could stand alone, but if you've never read a Brunetti novel before, I would STRONGLY recommend you don't start with this one. The early novels always have an intriguing case for Brunetti to solve AND a wonderful picture of Venice and of Brunetti and his family/colleagues.

What should I read if I like Donna Leon? ›

If you like Donna Leon, try these authors:
  • John Berendt. The son of two writers, John Berendt grew up in Syracuse, New York. He earned a B.A. in English from Harvard University, where he worked on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon. ...
  • Andrea Camilleri. Andrea Camilleri was one of Italy's most famous contemporary writers.

What is the synopsis of drawing conclusions Donna Leon? ›

Late one night, Brunetti is called away from dinner to investigate the death of a widow in her modest apartment. Though there are some signs of a struggle, the medical examiner rules that she died of a heart attack. It seems there is nothing for Brunetti to investigate.

What is the plot of Trace Elements Donna Leon? ›

A woman's cryptic dying words in a Venetian hospice lead Guido Brunetti to uncover a threat to the entire region in Donna Leon's haunting twenty-ninth Brunetti novel.

Does Donna Leon still live in Venice? ›

Commissario Brunetti made her books world-famous. Donna Leon lived in Italy for many years, and although she now lives in Switzerland, she often visits Venice.

What does Guido Brunetti look like? ›

Depiction. Brunetti is described by Leon in her first novel, Death at La Fenice, as "a surprisingly neat man, tie carefully knotted, hair shorter than was the fashion; even his ears lay close to his head, as if reluctant to call attention to themselves. His clothing marked him as Italian.

Why are Donna Leon's books not in Italian? ›

The novels are written in English, and have been translated into many foreign languages, although – at Leon's request – not into Italian, as she formerly lived there, still visits monthly, and prefers not to have recognition in the country.

Who is Guido Brunetti's wife? ›

Paola Brunetti

Paola is Brunetti's intelligent and glamorous wife. She and Brunetti have been happily married for around twenty years. A professor of literature, she especially admires Henry James – a love which Brunetti, despite all his efforts, cannot understand.

What is the order of the Donna Parker books? ›

Titles in the Series
  • 1: Donna Parker at Cherrydale (1957) ...
  • 2: Donna Parker Special Agent (1957) ...
  • 3: Donna Parker On Her Own (1957) ...
  • 4: Donna Parker: A Spring to Remember (1960) ...
  • 5: Donna Parker In Hollywood (1961) ...
  • 6: Donna Parker: Mystery at Arawak (1962) ...
  • 7: Donna Parker Takes a Giant Step (1964).

What is the order of Cara Black books? ›

Cara Black Books In Order
  • Murder in the Marais (1999)
  • Murder in Belleville (2000)
  • Murder in the Sentier (2002)
  • Murder in the Bastille (2003)
  • Murder in Clichy (2005)
  • Murder in Montmartre (2006)
  • Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis (2007)
  • Murder in the Rue de Paradis (2008)

How many Inspector Brunetti books are there? ›

He is a commissario (detective superintendent) in the Italian State Police, stationed in Venice and a native of that city. Brunetti is the protagonist of (as of April 2023) 32 novels: He also appears in a German TV film series based on these novels.

How many Peter Diamond Mysteries are there? ›

From 1991, he switched to contemporary crime fiction with the Peter Diamond series set in modern-day Bath and consisting of twenty titles as of 2022.

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