Donna Leon was born in 1942 in New Jersey, although she has lived alone in Venice for over 25 years. She was a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Maryland University College in Italy and then became a Professor at the American military base of Vicenza from 1981-1999. Donna travelled all over the world teaching before she began writing and became interested in Baroque music. She set up her opera company years ago with the musicologist Alan Curtis, another American exile in Italy, to tour rare works in concert format. She eventually gave up teaching to concentrate on writing crime novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti.
All these novels are centred round the main character and are set in or around Venice. They have been translated into many languages, apart from Italian and German Television broadcast 16 Commissario Brunetti mysteries. Donna Leon is a very private person and because of this, she will not have her books translated into Italian. It is known that she writes books, but she does not want to be recognised everywhere she goes in Italy, especially where she lives. In 2000 Donna Leon was awarded second place at the Crime Writers Association (UK) Macallan Silver Dagger Award for crime fiction.
Death in a Strange Country (1993)
Brunetti confronts a grisly sight when the body of a young American is fished out of a fetid Venetian canal. Though all the signs point to a violent mugging, something incriminating turns up in the victim’s apartment that suggests the existence of a high-level conspiracy.
The Death of Faith (1997)
Brunetti comes to the aid of a young nursing sister who is leaving her convent following the unexpected death of five patients. At first Brunetti’s inquiries reveal nothing amiss and he wonders whether the nun is simply creating a smoke screen to justify abandoning her vocation, but perhaps, she has stumbled onto something very real and very sinister – something that puts her life in imminent danger.
A Sea of Troubles (2001)
The murder of two clam fishermen off the island of Pellestrina, south of the Lido on the Venetian lagoon, draws Commissario Brunetti into the island’s close-knit community, bound together by a code of loyalty and a suspicion of outsiders. When Signorina Elettra volunteers to visit the island, where she has relatives, Brunetti finds himself torn between his duty to solve the murders, concerns for Elettra’s safety, and his not entirely straightforward feelings for her.
The Girl of His Dreams (2008)
One rainy morning Commissario Brunetti and Ispettore Vianello respond to an emergency call reporting a body floating near some steps on the Grand Canal. Reaching down to pull it out, Brunetti’s wrist is caught by the silkiness of golden hair, and he sees a small foot – together he and Vianello lift a dead girl from the water.