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Acqua Alta   by Donna Leon

Read: 2004-03-22 Reviewed: 2004-03-22
Re-read factor:
This is a book with no mystery, no suspense, and very little atmosphere. Donna lacks the expressive power needed to make either the place (Venice in winter, during floods) or the people (an opera singer who is actually inconsequential to the story, her lesbian archaeological friend, an unimaginative policeman, and an equally unimatinative villain) seem real.

The archaeologist is attacked, a museum curator is murdered, there is a gangster in town who has had a palace renovated with a gallery, and it turns out that the archaeologist knows where he is getting his artifacts from. So, the archaeologist is abducted, and without any contemplation the policeman and the opera singer go to rescue her from the villain. At the end of the book a catalogue of short statements simply explains absolutely everything, and that is it. Except for one loose end: during the `action' (word used under advisement) the archaeologist smashes an artifact. Did she know it was a fake? Who cares, but it is an annoyingly infuriating way to end a book which leaves nothing else to the imagination.

Pervasively, while all this is going on, Venice is flooding. Like the opera singer, this also contributes nothing at all to the plot.

The dialogue is terse, dispersed, and unnatural. The language is very simple. I'm sure Donna has been in Venice in winter, but as I said, she is unable to express the ambience of the place in words.

My mum would probably like this book, but I don't.

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