An opera singer is stalked and people are in danger

Donna Leon’s crime series about Commissario Brunetti has now reached over twenty volumes. I have read a handful of them, in no particular order, and find them to be quick and easy reads located at the cosy end of the crime spectrum. They are set in Venice where Brunetti is a senior police officer and they often deal with particular aspects of Venetian life.

In Falling in Love the author returns to the very first book in the series. Death at La Fenice where he investigated a murder related to the opera house in the title. I have actually read that book but I don’t think you need to know it in order to enjoy this one as the only real connection is that Brunetti knows the soprano Flavia Petrelli who features in both stories.

Flavia has returned to Venice to sing the lead role in the opera Tosca. She finds that strange things begin to happen – she is avalanched with flowers, someone has got into the building where she is staying in an apartment, and personal items are going missing. She is concerned about these things and this starts to make her tense and unhappy. Meting Brunetti and his family she takes the opportunity to ask for his advice. Initially Brunetti can see the problem but doesn’t think it a major issue but then a young woman Flavia has praised is attacked.

This is a book about a stalker who is invading the life of a performer and threatening those around her. It starts small but then becomes more and more dangerous for Flavia and those around her. Brunetti and his team have to work out who the stalker is and stop them before they turn their attention to Flavia and endanger her life.

This is an engaging and reasonably short crime novel. The Venetian background is interesting and adds colour to the story. The author references the opera quite a lot during the course of the book and I felt that it might have helped had I known something about it (opera is really not my thing) but there is enough detail to help even those of us who are opera illiterate. Flavia is an interesting character and there is a glimpse into what it might be like to be well known and successful in the arts. Brunetti is challenged daily by the corruption of the city in which he works and the police service which is managed by people who don’t always have the same priorities as he has. I thought that the ending was particularly well done with a bit of moral ambiguity in the resolution of the mystery.

This series isn’t one where I would necessarily want to buy the latest title and read all the novels but when I do come across one I enjoy them. They are not gory at all and are more about the characters and puzzle rather than dwelling on the crimes themselves. An easy but enjoyable read.

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