Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Donna Leon: Suffer the Little Children

After reading Zanzibar Chest I decided it was time to give myself a break, and I allowed myself another Donna Leon book, this one Suffer the Little Children. I am currently reading another detective series, recommended by my sister, set in China. What they all seem to have in common is a very tired, sad, jaded view of corruption in society, and particularly among the poorly paid police. Sigh.


In this book, a Doctor and his wife are invaded in the middle of the night by the carabinieri, a kind of police in Venice. I am not sure how the two agencies differ, maybe it is like the difference between state police and local police in the US, but when the paper was faxed over coordinating with Brunetti’s office, it got lost somewhere, and the action was never coordinated, and Brunetti gets a call in the middle of the night.

The doctor and his wife have adopted a child illegally. They bought an unwanted child from an Albanian woman, paid for her pregnancy expenses, paid a huge fee to her, and then had the child taken from them. Here is the saddest part of the story – the child’s mother doesn’t want the child, the illegally adopting parents want him back desperately, but the child is sent to a state orphanage, because of the illegal adoption.

It is a very sad book.

Here is why I read Donna Leon – some of her paragraphs are just brilliant. Memorable. Unforgettable.

“Brunetti’s profession had made him a master of pauses: he could distinguish them in the way a concert-master could distinguish the tones of the various strings. There was the absolute, almost belligerent pause, after which nothing would come unless in response to questions or threats. There was the attentive pause, after which the speaker measured the effect on the listener of what had just been said. And there was the exhausted pause, after which the speaker needed to be left undistrubed until emotional control returned.

Judging that he was listening to the third, Brunetti remained silent, certain that she would eventually continue. A sound came down the corridor: a moan or the cry of a sleeping person. When it stoped, the silence seemed to expand to fill the place.”

When you read Donna Leon, you forget you live anywhere else. For one brief moment, you become Venetian, you live in Guido Brunetti’s shoes. The speak the Venetian dialect, you think like a Venetian. What an escape!

The paperback edition will be out in April for $7.99 at for $7.99 plus shipping.

March 1, 2008 - Posted by | Adventure, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Fiction, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues, Venice

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