Re that list of ‘neglected’ sleuths, the one I posted on Dec 27th: I think I should qualify my inclusion of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti.
No, Brunetti doesn’t fit my definition of a ‘moody sleuth’… I’d consider him more ‘melancholy’ than ‘moody,’ but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed almost every book in Donna Leon’s series, twenty-two or twenty-three of them so far (approximately one per year since 1992).
No slight intended, but I find that a Commissario Brunetti book serves as an excellent ‘palate cleanser’ between more intense crime novels.
He’s not your typical ‘troubled detective,’ but I do like him. Apparently Leon made him ‘likeable’ on purpose. I an interview with The Irish Times (April 2014) Leon talks about Brunetti’s inception, how she set out to write a mystery novel with a ‘nice guy’ detective:
… I had the good sense… to make him someone that I liked. A nice guy and an intellectually and ethically interesting man.
An article in Critics at Large article (Sept 2014) expands on this:
Unlike the creators of dour, estranged-from-wife-and-children police detectives that are so prominent in the genre, Leon offers an incorruptible, astute protagonist and the comforts of domesticity … Brunetti always finds time to enjoy sumptuous lunches and dinners with his wife, Paola, who serves up delicious dishes and teaches Henry James at a local university, and their two likable if at times headstrong adolescent children, Raffi and Chiara. This domestic life serves an important function: it keeps the Commissario’s moral compass straight. Good food, wine, and loving support provide him with the sustenance to cope throughout with complex and morally ambiguous cases.
Brunetti’s attention to those ‘complex and morally ambiguous cases’ intrigues me too. His interest seems to be less about who committed the crime, and more about why the crime was committed.
Oh, and there’s the setting (Venice), the political curruption, the environmental issues… all sorts of goodies. Pure indulgence.
And a wee stroke to my ego… in an article in the New Republic (May 2012) Peter Green writes about Donna Leon’s perceived readership:
…the audience she aims at (as she cheerfully admits) is educated, civilized, well-read, morally alert, and intellectually curious: quick to catch allusions or arcane literary jokes, involved in the political and social problems of the modern world, humane and liberal in the best sense of those much-abused terms.
Nope, Commissario Brunetti’s not on my moody sleuth list, but I always look forward to his next case.