May 24, 2006


Author is at home among Venice's mysteries (Adam Woog, 5/24/06, The Seattle Times)

Q: The writing finances your passion: a Baroque opera company.

A: Yeah, why not? It's the best thing I can do with the money.

Q: The company you co-direct, Il Complesso Barocco, does only Baroque opera.

A: That's correct — Vivaldi, Handel, maybe Monteverdi.

Q: What's your role beyond the financial?

A: I'm the yenta — I nag.

Q: Did your love for opera predate your move to Venice?

A: Yes. They're in no way connected. La Fenice [Venice's opera house] is a beautiful theater but the level of performance is not distinguished. [...]

Q: But your books aren't published in Italy.

A: No. This is my choice. I'm famous in Germany and Austria. In Venice I'm spotted three or four times a day by Germans or Austrians. But I want to live where I'm not a celebrity. This isn't Greta Garbo fake humility stuff — I really don't want the cool, even, anonymous tenor of my life disturbed.

Q: Is it true there's almost no crime in Venice?

A: Almost none. It's closed off physically, and it's a maze. Where are you gonna go? Also, Venetians are nosy — if you start screaming, windows will open and the cops will be called; they might not come, but they will be called. And I think Venetians are a reasonably law-abiding people — not necessarily honest, but law-abiding.

Q: What's the distinction?

A: To survive in Italy requires a certain amount of law-breaking. If you want to get anything done, you employ people in nero, "in black" — off the books. Everybody does it, so it's hard to take a high moral tone. It's illegal but not criminal, I suppose. And if you have troubles with the administration it is not unknown to bribe.

I bribed someone myself once, to get something — a 17th-century house, not in Venice. It's better that someone like me got it, because I saved it from being flattened by bulldozers, so my weenie little bribe worked toward the general good.

Q: What's next for Brunetti?

A: I just finished a book about illegal adoption, which is a tremendous problem in Italy, and I think the next one's on religious cults — I have about 100 pages written.

If P.D. James weren't just gong strong but peaking late, this would be the best police series going.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2006 9:15 AM

Her books are wonderful, but Anglospherics given to Ludlum-like endings should be warned to expect European ambiguities and not to count on justice triumphing. In the one I read, the gloomy hero solves the crime but can't do anything about it, as there is no way a lowly cop like him could possibly unravel the corruption in high places that protects the perp.

Posted by: Peter B at May 24, 2006 9:40 AM

They provide an appropriately bleak view of Europe's prospects though.

Posted by: oj at May 24, 2006 9:44 AM

OJ, Is this the Leon book one should start with? The first in the series?

You got me hooked on Paz, by the way.

Posted by: je at May 24, 2006 12:32 PM

The Murder Room stunk, though.

Posted by: AC at May 24, 2006 12:40 PM


I always try to go in order, but the best one is: A Noble Radiance.

Posted by: oj at May 24, 2006 12:58 PM