Donna Leon has won heaps of critical praise and legions of fans for her bestselling mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, one of contemporary crime fiction's most beloved characters. With The Jewels of Paradise, Leon takes readers beyond the world of the Venetian Questura in her first stand-alone novel. Caterina Pellegrini is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she's had to leave home to pursue her career elsewhere, mostly abroad. With a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, she lands in Birmingham, England, as a research fellow and assistant professor. Birmingham, however, is no Venice, so when she gets word of a position back home, Caterina jumps at the opportunity. The job is an unusual one. After nearly three centuries, two locked trunks, believed to contain the papers of a once-famous, now largely forgotten baroque composer, have been discovered. The composer was deeply connected in religious and political circles, but he died childless, and now two Venetian men, descendants of his cousins, each claim inheritance. With rumors of a treasure, they aren't about to share the possible fortune. Caterina has been hired to attend the opening of the trunks and examine any enclosed papers to discover the "testamentary disposition" of the composer. But when her research takes her in unexpected directions and a silent man follows her through the streets, she begins to wonder just what secrets these trunks may hold. The Jewels of Paradise is a superb novel, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history, and greed. A New York Times bestseller.
American author, Donna Leon, has settled nicely into a series of crime novels set in Venice, Italy entitled, Brunettixote. The novels feature the fictional character of Commissario Guido Brunetti.
Leon was born in 1942, and eventually lived in Venice, Italy for over 30 years. She was an English literature lecturer for the University of Maryland in Europe (Italy), and worked on a military base in Italy for several years, before she became a full time writer. She moved to Zurich, Switzerland, and also had a home in a smaller Swiss village.
The novels have been translated from English into several foreign languages, but for some reason the author did not approve them being translated into Italian. German television has shown 22 Commissario Brunetti episodes that they produced for broadcast.