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The Girl of His Dreams
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Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: Reading The Girl of His Dreams leaves you no choice but to reconsider what makes a mystery novel so good. Certainly there's no denying the appeal of a hard-boiled crime story, where more often than not a brilliant yet battered P.I. drives you white-knuckled to the edge of your seat, but Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti--at once exactingly inquisitive and disarmingly sensitive--bucks that genre convention entirely. Here, in Leon's seventeenth Brunetti mystery, is a man who investigates the tragic drowning of a young Gypsy girl relentlessly, yet--in his thoughtful meanderings through the streets and cafes of Venice--also struggles to understand the human warps and weaknesses that make his beloved city so vulnerable. In the end, it's this pure love and curiosity for life (and, I admit, his lusty appreciation of daily luxuries like prosecco, good coffee, or a burst of sunshine) that make Brunetti such a seductive hero--so much so that you're willing to follow him wherever he goes. --Anne Bartholomew


Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries have won legions of fans for their evocative portraits of Venetian life. In her novels, food, family, art, history, and local politics play as central a role as an unsolved crime. In The Girl of His Dreams when a friend of Brunetti’s brother, a priest recently returned from years of missionary work, calls with a request, Brunetti suspects the man’s motives. A new, American-style Protestant sect has begun to meet in the city, and it’s possible the priest is merely apprehensive of the competition. But the preacher could also be fleecing his growing flock, so Brunetti and Paola, along with Inspector Vianello and his wife, go undercover.

But the investigation has to be put aside when, one cold and rainy morning, a body is found floating in a canal. It is a child, a gypsy girl. Brunetti suspects she fell off a nearby roof while fleeing an apartment she had robbed. He has to inform the distrustful parents, encamped on the mainland, and soon finds himself haunted by the crime--and the girl. Thought-provoking, eye-opening, and profoundly moving, The Girl of His Dreams is classic Donna Leon, a spectacular, heart-wrenching addition to the series.

Customer Reviews:

  • Excellent shipping but a novel without interest
    Unlike the first books of Donna Leon, this one shows a deep lack of inspiration and imagination. Therefore, the reader is not really bound to find any interest in this novel....more info
  • Donna Leon at her Very Best
    I am not a mystery fan. But I love books that transport me to an interesting place and/or time. Donna Leon excels at this. She has lived in Venice for over 25 years and writes lovingly of the people, the canals, and life there. She has created a wonderful set of warm, endearing characters. particularly Commissario Guido Brunetti, his family, and Signorina Elettra. I'm working my way through the series of Commissario Brunetti stories and am about half way through, and this story is one of the best.

    David Colacci is a dynamic reader and to my Italian-American ears does a pretty Italian accent. He is greatly superior to Anna Fields who was the reader for the earlier audiobooks.

    I very highly recommend this book and the series to any one who wants to have a sense of what it feels like to live in Venice. I am charmed by the descriptions of life in the city and the glorious food. Can Italians really eat that well?! ...more info
  • The Girl of His Dreams
    Will hold your interest. Always a suspense ending by the Commissario!

    Enjoy!...more info
  • A darker, more bitter Brunetti...
    I enjoy Donna Leon's novels, and this case is no exception. I liked the blacker edge of this one, where Brunetti goes a bit further in dealing with the contradictions of his life: his inability to do much about reversing the progress of corruption in modern Italy, and Venice in particular; and the sweet enjoyment of his functional and loving family, which is also a product of that same society (and is threatened by it). Isn't this something we all feel? We have come to fear the moment when both dimensions shall overlap, when the public cesspool overruns our domestic defenses and infects our private lives. I become a little disappointed -or even irritated- when the backdrop (Patta, Signorina Elettra, Venice itself) is inmobile, fixed, repetitive amd almost a caricature of itself. Leon certainly has the talent to do better: she knows that in detective novels the main character's urban environment and its secondary (or even tertiary) characters are key to the genre. And yet she doesn't seem to want to expend the effort. It's a pity. Brunetti deserves a bit better than that....more info
  • All of Leon's books are wonderful reads, and THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS stands tall among them.
    THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS is Donna Leon's 17th police procedural featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, the warm-hearted cop who reads the classics and gets his greatest joy from his family. The novel opens upon a gloomy scene at a graveside service in honor of Guido's mother. With him are his wife, Paola, daughter Chiara and son Raffi. His brother, Sergio, and some of Sergio's children also represent the immediate family. As he stands there looking at the slash in the earth that will be his mother's resting place, Guido is flooded with sorrow and memories.

    Monday is the day that Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta, Guido's immediate superior, returns from a two-week conference in Berlin that focused on international police cooperation against the Mafia. Guido seeks the comfort of his office and is told that a priest has come to talk to him: "Padre Antonin was the priest who had given the final blessing over his mother's coffin; he was Sergio's friend and not his, [although] Guido had known Antonin for decades, since he and Sergio had been schoolboys. After middle school, the brothers had gone to different schools, and so Antonin fell out of Brunetti's orbit." As time went on, "Antonin decided to enter the seminary, and from there he'd gone to Africa as a missionary...and then, about four years ago, Antonin was back in Venice, working as a chaplain...and living with the Dominicans in their mother's house beside the Basilica."

    Guido greets his old acquaintance with equanimity, and once the small talk fades, he asks the priest why he had come. Antonin answers the question by telling him a short story about one of his parishioners who has a son who seems headed for big trouble. This leads Guido to a gentleman named Brother Leonardo, whose surname is Mutti. He is selling himself as a spiritual father to a small gathering of people who call themselves "The Children of Jesus Christ" and are seeking "the answer." At his meetings he tells his flock that they have a duty to help the poor, and like lemmings they all give him money hidden inside their envelopes. Antonin would like information about this man, and Guido wants to know if he really is who he says he is.

    Paola Brunetti is an educated woman who comes from a background of luxury and money. She teaches English literature and often guides her husband to books that may help him through a rough patch. Her mother, the Countess, is a charming lady with connections everywhere, especially in religious channels. Guido turns to the Countess for help in getting as much information as he can about Mutti.

    Out of the blue, Guido is summoned by his blustering superior, Patta, for a discussion about being sensitive to the differences in people coming into Venice and to embrace their ways. He is referring specifically to the number of gypsies or, in PC language, the Rom. These groups use their children to steal from tourists and residents, and grab anything they can. They are bold and are rarely even taken in for questioning. Patta tries to be circumspect but is clumsy and power crazy. Soon after this dialogue with Patta, Guido and Paola have dinner with her parents. But the Countess says nothing of her inquiries, leaving Guido with a sense of ease, and he decides to let go of Antonin's request and move on with his work.

    The next morning, Guido and his friend and colleague Vianello retrieve the body of a gypsy girl floating in a canal. No one reported a missing child or called to inquire if a 10-year-old girl had shown up anywhere. Meanwhile, the investigation moves on and takes several unexpected turns. Guido and Vianello are experienced detectives and have worked many cases involving children, but that doesn't make this one any easier. The idea of a dead child with no one to claim her eats at Guido, and soon he finds himself having nightmares about her and the crime. The most frustrating part about this case is that Guido knows to whom the child belongs. Nevertheless, he is helpless to do anything about it.

    Donna Leon delivers a full-blown cast of well-limned characters who are consistently fresh and have interesting lives. The puzzles and conundrums she devises are always suspenseful, which makes for fast-paced reading.

    Loyal fans have become very attached to Guido Brunetti and his family, as well as his colleagues. In each book the man transcends the petty nonsense of the workplace and is always aware of his responsibilities and how to prioritize them. He works to keep his loved ones safe, well, happy and together. After that he seeks justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Here Leon gives him a wide berth, and he usually comes up with the right answer, either by himself or through intimate conversations with Paola. All of Leon's books are wonderful reads, and THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS stands tall among them.

    --- Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum...more info
  • Another very good Brunetti novel
    If my expectations of Donna Leon's books weren't so high, I would have given this one 5 stars. It's very good - not up to the level of the first few but very good.

    Leon's writing does such an excellent job evoking the spirit of Venice, and over the course of this series she's provided so much detail into the thoughts and feelings (and eating/drinking habits) of many of these characters that they've become as familiar as family members. She seems incapable lately of avoiding heavy-handed moral lessons (in this case, the plight of the Gypsies) but it doesn't detract from the story in this case to the extent that it has in some of her previous efforts.

    All in all, highly recommended, but if you're starting as a new reader of Leon go with the early novels first....more info
  • brunetti by the numbers
    i am a great fan - i've read them all, but this just wasn't very good. she has all the trimmings: venetian venues, paola, the kids, the good detectve, the bad boss, etc, etc. it was like a thanksgiving feast. yet there was just one problem - she forgot the turkey. while she carefully included all the brunetti sides and asides we love and know so well, she didn't think it necessary to provide a plot. did she phone this in to her ghost writer? is she getting lasy? i hope not. i hope this was just a one time mistake - please. ...more info
  • Another Winner for Donna Leon
    Donna Leon, a long time resident of Venice, has created another winner in this series about Commissario Guido Brunetti, his delightful family and friends in the water-logged city of Venice, Italy. Donna Leon has the great talent of making her fictional characters such as Brunetti come to life..as a reader you are there with them; experiencing their daily life and trevails
    in a way no other author I've read can do. I have only been in Venice once and that was too much but I know I would love it being there with Brunetti and his fellow Venetians....more info
  • Crazy for Brunetti, his wife and kids, and what he eats..and Venice, Italy!!!
    I liked this new Commissario Guido Brunetti adventure, Donna Leon's 17th in the series. This time, there's a religous group that might be bogus, and the drowning of a 13 year old Gypsy girl in one of Venice's better neighborhood canals. Because Donna Leon is so good at showing us the lives of the Brunetti family, I am interested in Brunetti, Paola, his Henry James-loving wife, Raffale, his son, and Chiara, his vegan daughter. How they evolve and grow, and what they eat for the big 1 p.m. meal, which all must attend, appeals to me. I also love that Brunetti is thwarted many times in bringing down the culprits because in Italy, as in many European countries, the killer, depending on how powerful his/her family is, can get away with murder. The opening chapter, which is beautifully written, is worth the price of admission. A must-read for Brunetti fans....more info
  • The Girl of his Dreams
    As compellingly readable as always. Donna Leon evokes the mysterious underbelly of Venice better than anyone, while also drawing the almost prosaic in her depiction of the Brunettis' family life. I love her books and this one is no exception....more info
  • I haven't received the book yet
    I am very unhappy with seller. Ordered book on 4/10 and one month later it is still not here. The seller insists that I must wait until 5/13 to request a refund. Very unhappy with service. ...more info
  • Not much of a mystery
    I have been a big fan of the Brunetti series and have read every one of them. However, this book continues a general decline in the quality of the plotting. The books remain a pleasant visit with a character one has come to know and like, but the author needs to do more than share Brunetti's philosophical musings and more pedestrian cases. If you are new to the Brunetti series, skip this one and find the first few in the series - they are a treat....more info