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Publisher's Summary

Donna Leon's critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has attracted listeners 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 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.

©2014 Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag, Zurich (P)2014 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    110
  • 4 Stars
    93
  • 3 Stars
    39
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    131
  • 4 Stars
    72
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    94
  • 4 Stars
    79
  • 3 Stars
    40
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    2
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • alexis
  • Richmond, CA, United States
  • 04-07-14

Colacci is BACK!!!

How delighted I was to hear David Colacci narrating this series again. His performance is perfect, as always. But the story is too brief by far, and it ends so abruptly I was caught completely off-guard. Ms. Leon left me sorely missing the familial warmth of earlier mysteries and the wonderful and wry humor of Senorina Electra, along with the many other riches of most Guido Brunetti stories. It is still a 5-star listen, but be prepared for an almost breathless pace compared to the slow and steady soulfulness and the intelligent and cultured ruminations we've come to expect from Comissario Brunetti!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Finely crafted, believable characters and situations, up to her usual excellence. More books, many more books please

Leon keeps on doing it, and keeps on doing it well. As usual, she starts with some small fact of life, and drop by drop builds a sandcastle that can withstand all waves, based on a current social issue or perhaps even a trial. Her characters are believable and stay so from one book to the next, becoming people you know and usually like. Her stories are solid in themselves and do not depend on gratuitous sex or violence. its not that there isn't a dead body or two or that married or unmarried people sleep together, but if so, it's part of the tale that will keep you reading to the end. Perhaps you will reread even more than once.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting subject, but too short

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I usually enjoy Donna Leon books about Inspector Brunetti, but this one seemed very rushed, with an abrupt ending. It seemed like the author suddenly tired of the story and just wanted to get it over with. Too bad, because the subject of stolen pages from very valuable old books could have been so much more. I knew the audio would be short, but when "the end" came, I could hardly believe it.

If you’ve listened to books by Donna Leon before, how does this one compare?

There was much less interaction with Brunetti's wife and children, and his fellow police. The story line was good, but could have been developed more deeply.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narrator is ok, but a bit bland.

Any additional comments?

I hope this book doesn't signal the end of the series, if the author is tired of writing them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Back on track

It's great to have Colacci back and also to have one of the more enjoyable plots from among the last several books in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Boring

What disappointed you about By Its Cover?

Story was so boring and I couldn't follow it. I just read it and can't even remember what it was about. She used to write such great mysteries but her last 3 have missed the mark for me.

Would you ever listen to anything by Donna Leon again?

No

Would you be willing to try another one of David Colacci’s performances?

I like his performances.

What character would you cut from By Its Cover?

None

Any additional comments?

Go back to what made her books to popular. The interactions between her characters. A lot less pontificating about today's society and more compelling stories.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Almost

The ending of this was, to me, so totally unsatisfactory. Beautifully read, but still unsatisfying. It was a disappointment. We listen to books on long car drives and this did not completely take our minds off the length of the trip.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I don't know...

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I have enjoyed Donna Leon's Brunetti and his world in the past, but this one to me was so boring and also unfortunately monotonously read, that it really was not for me and I could barely make it through the story.I can't answer as to who would enjoy it more. Hardcore fans, for sure.

Would you ever listen to anything by Donna Leon again?

Yes, I would, so far I have liked her books, this is why I was surprised about my own reaction to this one. But it is probably normal not to appreciate everything by one author.

What didn’t you like about David Colacci’s performance?

To be honest, quite unlike his previous readings, I felt almost a little 'spat' on...

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

A bit of disappointment, but I listen to many books and cannot like everything equally.

Any additional comments?

Other readers may feel totally differently about the book and the audio version, I just had the need to express my personal lack of enjoyment.

  • Overall

Murder among rare books

Vintage Leon but a very slow book which ended too soon without much resolution. I was shocked at the ending since it was abrupt as if author was bored with story

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Disappointing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I can't say I will.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I didn't mind how it ended. Good writers should let readers conclude on their own.

What didn’t you like about David Colacci’s performance?

Truly poor, I can his hear his spit all through the reading. Ms Leon need to consider a new narrator.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

It won't.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A true fan of Donna Leon

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes...most especially to friends who have been to Venice and appreciate Italy. Love the mystery and how Brunetti and his team calmly go about ferreting out clues and and work with intelligence and good psychology. The interaction with Brunetti and Paola is insightful and entertaining. It is nice to have a good story without explicit sex or violence, but with appropriate descriptions, even if grisly...as it would exist in most murder investigations. The author is a wonderful storyteller who obviously knows the territory and how things work in police investigating in enchanting Venice.

What other book might you compare By Its Cover to and why?

My husband and I have either read or listened to every book Ms. Leon has written. As for comparisons, they all stand on their own as great entertainment and compelling characters and story lines.

Have you listened to any of David Colacci’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

David Colacci and George Guidall are the two performers we especially enjoy. The best!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The abrupt ending was a surprise..mostly because I was not ready for it to end!

Any additional comments?

Hope there are more Donna Leon books on the way!!