Willful behavior

by Donna Leon

Paper Book, 2010




New York : Penguin Books, 2010.


When one of his wife's Paola's students comes to visit him, with a strange and vague interest in investigating the possibility of a pardon for a crime committed by her grandfather many years ago, Commissario Brunetti thinks little of it. But when the girl is found dead, clearly stabbed to death, Claudia Leonardo suddenly becomes Brunetti's case, no longer Paola's student. Claudia seems to have no discernible living family - her only familial relationship is with an elderly Austrian woman, who was the lover of her grandfather, but was not herself Claudia's grandmother. Brunetti is both intrigued and stunned by the extraordinary art collection the old woman keeps in her small, unprepossessing flat, and when she in turn is found dead, the case seems to have be about to open up long buried secrets of collaboration and the exploitation of Italian Jews during the war, secrets few in Italy are happy to explore.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member tututhefirst
When one of Paola Brunetti's students approaches her to enlist her assistance in getting Brunetti to obtain a pardon for her long dead grandfather's crime, Guido finds himself digging into Nazi art thefts during World War II, and ultimately into the young student's murder. As usual, the trail of inquiry into the mystery leads to more mysteries, more murder, and the constant dilemma of dealing with corrupt authorities both in the past and in this case. Classic Leon...it's well plotted, with lots of involvement by all the principles.… (more)
LibraryThing member SofiaAndersson
The same formula as the other books about commissario Brunetti. But it works.
LibraryThing member jrtanworth
This is my first reading of a Donna Leon novel and I was pleasantly rewarded. Commissiaro Brunetti is a likable police official in a corrupt Venetian bureaucracy, who though dogged persistence and the proficient investigative capabilities of his office assistant is gradually able to uncover the mystery behind two deaths. Clearly written and convincing.… (more)
LibraryThing member kakadoo202
this one was a quick read but certainly lacked the depth of former brunettis? the switch from nazi war art crimes to a simple jeaulous wife was a dissapointing ending. considering the the murder victim was in paolas literature class was my hope for a deeper reason of the deaths in this book.
LibraryThing member nocto
I read Fatal Remedies in 2000, decided I liked it enough to go back and start at the beginning of the series with Death at La Fenice, didn't enjoy that one as much, and then forgot about the series for twelve years.

So, it's 2012 and we went on a trip to Venice and I came back with a desire to visit this series again. I picked this one as it was the earliest of the three volumes available in my local library. And I enjoyed it very much! It has a lovely plot that worked very nicely. But mainly I enjoyed the fact that I know where Brunetti is wandering and when he gets on, for example, the Number One vaparetto to San Stae I am there with him knowing exactly what it's like. Although Leon paints a good picture of Venice, it's not as good as the one in my memory.

I will be reading more. In less than twelve years time I hope. No promises.
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LibraryThing member Joycepa
11th in the Commissario Brunetti series set in Venice, Italy.

A young woman, one of Paola’s students, approaches Paola after class with an odd question: since Paola’s husband is a policeman, the student wants to know if there is any legal process by which a person who has already died can be declared innocent of a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced. Paola dutifully asks Guido; he, of course, can not answer so vague a question. Claudia, the young student, visits Brunetti at the Questura and gives him more details, enough so that Brunetti is intrigued, and begins privately inquiring about Claudia’s grandfather; Brunetti discovers that the grandfather was an antiquarian who is believed to have acquired priceless art treasures during the war from desperate people, mostly Jews, who sold them for a pittance in order to escape Europe. Before Brunetti can learn much more, Claudia is found murdered.

Leon almost always includes as an integral part of her plots some social issue, which she uses extremely well as a device to give added interest to the story and to illuminate a societal condition. The disappearance of art collections, both into the hands of the Nazis and into private ones as well, is a phenomenon that has reverberations to this day, as heirs of the original owners try to recover art works that were either stolen or coerced from their relatives during World War II. In addition, Leon gives glimpses, through Brunetti’s and Paola’s family histories, of some of the horrors of the Italian participation in World War II and the current national amnesia on the subject. It’s an absorbing matrix for the plot.

By this time, Leon’s fans are well acquainted with her recurring characters, who are the strongest elements of the books. Particularly well done is Brunetti’s family--Paola and his teen-age children, Raffi and Chiara. There is a particularly hilarious scene at the dinner table when the kids make the mistake of asking for cell phones. Vianello has finally received his promotion to Inspector, and Brunetti’s father-in-law, Count Falier, has another of his trade mark appearances.

The plot is very good and the writing is strong. It does take a little time to get the story going, but after that it’s absorbing if not a page-turner. “Justice” is served Italian style at the end; there is no such thing as a clean resolution in modern Venice.

While the book is not among Leon’s best installments in the series, it is still well worth reading if only for the history. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member cyderry
In this 11th installment of the Commissario Brunetti mysteries, this one starts with Guido's wife Paola presenting him with an odd question that had been posed to her by one of her students. Claudia Leonardo knew that Paola's husband was a policeman and asked if she could find out if there was a way legally to have a person who had been convicted and sentenced for a crime declared innocent.

When Paola posed the question, Guido hedged, stating that he had to know the nature of the crime before he could give any kind of valid answer. So Paola sent Claudia to visit Commissario Guido Brunetti at his office to pose the question herself. Claudia gives the barest facts and no names. Guido is intrigued but thinks no more of it until he finds that his newest murder victim is none other than Claudia Leonardo.

After tracking down those who may know why Claudia was killed, Guido discovers Nazi Collaborators with a stockpile of millions in art treasures. Interwoven is a minor tale of municipal corruption and bribery.

This one of absolutely fascinating up until the last few chapters. The ending was, IMO, a little anticlimactic but overall a very good read.
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LibraryThing member VivienneR
Commissario Brunetti's wife brought him a question from one of her students, Claudia Leonardo. Brunetti and Claudia meet, and discussed the question about having a pardon issued for someone who received a sentence. When Claudia is found dead, Brunetti begins an investigation that involves Nazis, art theft, and corruption. It includes some over-blown language and long discussions about ethics that slowed the story in places. The conclusion was unsatisfying but otherwise not a bad read.… (more)
LibraryThing member billlund
This is the first Commissario Guido Brunetti book that I've "read." Actually, my family listened to it as we were driving to California.

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, in particular the beautiful descriptions of Venice. My wife and I have been to Venice twice and have fallen in love with it. The only sad part is that, as Donna Leon describes, it is collapsing under the weight of its own "tourismus." I highly recommend both this book and visiting Venice.… (more)
LibraryThing member waldhaus1
A bright beautiful young women is murdered and the motive at first seems to be the found in art work owned by the woman she calls grandmother. The art was plundered by the woman's lover during the war. There are many twists in Brunetti's investigation.
There are some formulaic elements in the story: Paola's involvement; Eletra's involvement; computer sleuthing - but in the end the characters come alive making the read a pleasure.… (more)
LibraryThing member sharrya
When you are interested in Italy or even more specifically in Venice, then you are reading the right book and Guido Brunetti makes good guide. He likes good food, art and most of all he feels at home in his home town. You get away after this read with some great Italian dishes, where and how to drink a coffee or something stronger. You get some flashbacks from the war and at the end some tips on English Literature by fanatic teacher Paola Brunetti ... or should we say Donna Leon (once a teacher...)… (more)
LibraryThing member clue
The eleventh book in the series, Willful Behavior is good mystery although I didn't like the ending. Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates the murder of a young woman. The trail to the murderer backtracks through family history and illegal behavior during WWII.
LibraryThing member crazeedi73
They just keep getting better. I love how she mixes food and mystery together
LibraryThing member ffortsa
One of Leon's better ones, I think, in which a young student of Paola's is killed after inquiring about clearing her grandfather's record from after WWII. People are indeed wilful in this story: an old lady who can't help loving a truly despicable follower of Mussolini, that same despicable fellow's penchant for collecting art to the loss of those attempting to escape Italy during the war, a notario whose whole family is obsessed with greed - and so forth. The only thought I had aside from enjoyment of this very satisfying mystery is that Brunetti wouldn't have been able to solve any of this without the extraordinary clandestine skills and connections of Signorina Ekatterin… (more)
LibraryThing member thornton37814
One of Paola's university students asks her a legal question seeking the advice of Paola's husband Commissario Guido Brunetti, a former law student. The question involves a man who died while serving a sentence in a mental institution for a conviction during the World War II years. While Brunetti doubts a modern trial would produce a different result, when the girl turns up dead, he knows her questions probably resulted in her murder. They mystery involves art in a private collection and a somewhat hidden library where the girl volunteered. I enjoyed this mystery, but I did not enjoy the narrator as much as I enjoyed the usual narrator for the series. Crossley mispronounced names and other proper nouns, and I really didn't like his voice for Guido which made him seem less authoritative.… (more)
LibraryThing member Pmaurer
Read this one for the book club. enjoyed it as I do all of Donna Leon's books. Always amazes me how Brunetti always seem to know just the right person to fill in the background on a case.
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
When one of the brightest of Paola’s students asks her a legal question she can’t answer, Paola agrees to ask her husband, Commissario Brunetti. The girl’s question has to do with the reputation of her grandfather, who was convicted for criminal behavior during World War II but died before serving his sentence. Brunetti isn’t able to give her an answer she wants to hear. Brunetti thinks no more about it, until the girl is found dead in her apartment from what was quite clearly murder.

I enjoyed this one a bit more than some of the other installments in the series because of Paola’s contribution. She knew the murder victim and her insights were helpful to her husband as he tried to make sense of the case. I’m also fond of mysteries that involve art or libraries, and this one had both. I wasn’t as fond of the new narrator for the audio version. He mispronounced Chiara’s name throughout the book. It looks like this might have been a one-off for this narrator. Maybe the regular narrator couldn’t fit this one into his schedule.
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