Islands in the laguna

For a daydreaming Pisces, a novel with a sense of place as strong as any of its characters is irresistible. Writers from the American south have always been very good at this—Gail Godwin, Pat Conroy, Flannery O’Connor, and the like.

Place is typically very important to ongoing mystery series are as well. My personal favorites are Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series, set in Venice, Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels, which take place in and around Montreal, and the Commissario Montalbano series by Andrea Camillero, set in Sicily.  Each of these series is far beyond a collection of simple detective stories; they are highly literate, with both principle and supporting characters who are impeccably fleshed out, who grow and change as the series progress. You get to know, respect, and probably love them as you read one after another. Tip: If you are interested in any of these, do read them in order!

I’ve just finished Earthly Remains, the latest in the Commissario Brunetti series. The story, which takes place on Sant’Erasmo and Burano, islands in the Venetian lagoon, brought back some lovely memories of our 2012 excursion to Murano, Burano, and Torcello.  I’m sharing those memories for my own selfish pleasure as much as for yours.

(1) If I were doing the trip again, I would skip Murano. If you read this book, you’ll find out why.

(2) Both Brunetti and Montalbano have been transformed into fabulously entertaining TV series—the first is, ironically, a German production and the second, an Italian one. You can enjoy them in the US, as well as many other European offerings, with a modestly priced subscription to the streaming service MHZ Choice.


5 thoughts on “Islands in the laguna

  1. Nancy Carter

    You picked three of my own personal favorites, Angela. I have also enjoyed the Chief Bruno series by Martin Walker and the series by M. L. Longworth, set in Aix-en-Provence. Our Midcoast-Maine mystery book club has been meeting for over 12 years now, and we welcome seasonal drop-ins. We take turns hosting in South Bristol, where I live, Owls Head, Rockport, Thomaston and Rockland. Each month features a different author (chosen several months in advance) and we each read as few or as many as we wish (promising not to reveal “whodunnit”). The discussion is lighthearted, and we always leave with new authors and titles to explore. If you or any others reading this are around this summer and would like to join us at 10:30 on the fourth Thursday of any month, just let me know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Angela

      That would be fabulous! I will try to plan accordingly on my next trip and will try the Longworth series. Thanks so much for sharing. One of my favorite non-mystery writers is Maine’s own Monica Wood.


      1. Nancy Carter

        Thanks! I haven’t read anything by her, but will run it by our merry band to see if they’re familiar with her books.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s