The Jewels of Paradise, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


From the bestselling author of the Brunetti crime series comes The Jewels of Paradise, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history and greed and Donna Leon's first stand-alone novel. Caterina Pellegrini is a young Venetian musicologist hired to find the rightful heir to an alleged treasure concealed by a once-famous, but now almost forgotten, baroque composer.

Sworn to secrecy, Caterina can solve the mystery only by searching through the papers contained in two chests that have not been opened for centuries.

As she delves into all quarters of his life, she is drawn into one of the most scandalous affairs of the baroque era.

What dark secrets do these chests hold, and just whom can she trust?


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Thriller / suspense
  • ISBN: 9780099580270

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Taking a break from her series of crime novels featuring the long-suffering and inordinately patient Commissario Guido Brunetti Donna Leon has ventured into the more litereary end of Dan Brown territory, taking the reader through a brief history of Baroque music and revisiting the life of composer, bishop and diplomat Agostino Steffani.Her protagonist in this stand-alone novel is Catherina Pellegrini, an accomplished musicologist with expertise in the Baroque period. She is commissioned to return to her native Venice to review the contents of two large recently discovered chests, identified as having belonged to the late Steffani who died in 1728. Two rather shady modern day Venetians have also been identified as having joint claim on the Steffani estate.We are then treated to an intriguing recapitulation of Steffani's life, from early mutilation as a castrato through his career as a leading chorister and then a composer in his own right while he also amassed a number of posts within the Catholic Church, complemented by diplomatic missions for various eighteenth century notables.Leon has clearly equalled her character in the depth of her research, and she conveys huge amounts of information about the life and times of Steffani, without ever making the reader feel put upon. Meanwhile she also manages to build the tension as Catherina's investigations proceed.All in all I found this a welcome break from the Brunetti series which I felt was beginning to feel slightly stale.

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