Cover image of "Falling in Love," the 24th book in a long-running series

By all accounts, Donna Leon‘s long-running series of detective novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti is widely popular, even loved. I wish I could understand why. Falling in Love, the 24th installment in Leon’s series, is an insipid tale of an opera diva and her violence-prone stalker. I kept reading until the end in hopes that something at least mildly interesting would happen. No such luck. Instead, the painfully slow-moving action is further retarded at far too many places by useless verbiage such as the following:

“Paola said she’d bring coffee into the living room or — if he thought it was warm enough — they could drink it on the terrace. It wasn’t warm enough, so Brunetti went to the sofa and thought about literature. When Paolo joined him a few minutes later, two cups of coffee on a wooden tray . . .

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Snooze! There is no excuse for such boneheaded excess! And don’t think for a minute that that was an isolated example. Here, more or less at random, is another one:

“He called Vianello, who must have been at home or at least in a place where there was a television, for in the background Brunetti could hear the patently artificial voices of the Italian-speakers who did the voice-over for foreign films. Vianello told him to wait, and the sound diminished as he moved away from it.”

Falling in Love (Commissario Brunetti #24) by Donna Leon ★★☆☆☆

Elmore Leonard would gag if he read filler-copy like this! (I certainly did.) It’s reminiscent of the bad old days, when the writers of genre fiction were paid by the word.

But wait — there’s more.

The novel is punctuated by dialogue in Italian that’s nowhere translated into English; I complain when pretentious writers do that with French, which at least is spoken by a halfway reasonable number of people, so I regard a showoff in Italian as a worse offender.

If the plot of Falling in Love were interesting — if it were more than a simple, straightforward, linear story — some of this nonsense might be excusable. Regrettably, nothing relieves the tedium of the boring plot-line in this unfortunate excuse for a mystery.

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