Donna Leon Books

There are writers whose life is destined to clash with a particular character sooner or later. It is just inevitable, like a force of nature. That is the case with Donna Leon, an American writer, who feels the city of Venice better than some Italians do. No wonder that she set all of her novels in Venice. Leon was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1942. She got her doctorate in Indiana, with her specialty being novelists of the 18th century. Her career is inseparably linked to the University of Maryland University College where she made her career. Leon was a professor of English literature for many years in Italy until she resolved to try her luck as a writer. It was a great decision as she went on to be named as one of the 50 greatest crime writers by “Times”.

Leon dedicated almost whole her career writing crime fiction, more precisely novels about Comissario Guido Brunetti. This is the series that made Leon famous and acclaimed writer. Besides Brunetti saga, she also wrote couple of non-fiction books, as well as a stand-alone novel “Jewel of Paradise”

Order of Donna Leon Non-Fiction Books

Order of Donna Leon Standalone Novels

# Read Title Published
1 The Jewels of Paradise 2012

Order of Guido Brunetti Series

Print: Print PDF

Donna Leon’s Awards:

It was mentioned earlier that Leon is part of the list called “Greatest 50 crime writers” published by Times. In addition to this recognition, Leon won numerous respectable awards, most notably Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger for her novel “Friends in High Places”. Furthermore, Leon won Golden Book Award, as well as Suntory mystery fiction Grand Prize for “Death at La Fenice”. Her series about Guido Brunetti was counted among Six Detective Series To Savor according to “Time Magazine”. Leon won several international awards for her writing achievements.

Donna Leon’s books into movies:

It is interesting that Leon’s series about Comissario Brunetti got its television adaptation in Germany. The shooting of the TV show started in 2000, with its popularity rising over the years. The adaptation gathered fans from other European countries as well, such as Spain and Finland.

Best Donna Leon Books:

It is virtually impossible to imagine Leon’s legacy without Guido Brunetti, hence these are some of the best books of the series.

Death at La Fenice: This novel presents beginning of the story about Comissario Brunetti and Venice. This magical city has been the inspiration for many poets and novelists, but it seems that it has not struck so intensely anyone in the past few decades as it is the case with Donna Leon. She spent more than two decades living in this beautiful city in the northeastern Italy and it does not come as a surprise that all of her stories deal with Venice, in one way or another. In “Death at La Fenice”, Venice is the final destination for Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a widely acclaimed conductor, who gets poisoned in “La Fenice” while performing “Traviata”. As it usually goes, the case is complicated, and Comissario Guido Brunetti is given the chance to solve the puzzle. Brunetti is slick city detective with immense talent and evolved philosophical viewpoints, and a reader gets to know all of the canals of Venice under his guidance.

Friends in High Places: This is perhaps the most popular of all the novels Leon has ever written, and the one that got her Silver Dagger. Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of entangled case with Guido Brunetti. In the ninth installment of the series, things get personal as Comissario is visited by an official registrar from the city administration who points out to Brunetti that his apartment may not have all the necessary permits. A couple of days after the visit, the registrar is found dead, and the hero of the story has to connect the dots as to how his apartment is connected with a gruesome murder.

Fatal Remedies: In the eighth part of the series, Comissario Brunetti is put in front of the most difficult challenge of his career as he deals with the indictment against his own wife, Paola and the maladroit robbery that links Mafia to the even more dangerous felony. Brunetti is torn and has to fight like he never did before in order to protect his wife, family and the city of Venice. Like all of the books of the series, this one was translated into many languages, but not in Italian, as that was Leon’s wish. It would be interesting to see how an Italian would react to the gloomy descriptions of the underground of Venice shown in Leon’s novels, especially this one.