Four of us met to discuss About Face by Donna Leon and while Pam hadn’t finished reading it, the rest of us agreed that it was kind of boring and we kept waiting for something to happen.

We just weren’t very excited about the story and felt the mystery was weak. We were fascinated by the woman, Franca Marinello, and her face. Poor Pam, who hadn’t finished the book, didn’t know why the woman’s face was like it was and wanted to know what that was all about. We told her. Which then led to a discussion of facial products, face lifts, “trout pouts” and what’s involved and why women do it. I’m still just looking for a good foundation!

We did agree that the setting was interesting, though we all stumbled over the language and the names. The bits of information about Venice were fascinating and the garbage information about Naples was disgusting. We didn’t really talk about the mafia aspects beyond comparing the mafia in America, which is a little glorified, thanks to movies and television, to the mafia in Italy, which seems to be all-pervasive, which is a little disheartening. I kept calling the bad guy a thug because even though he was slick and well-dressed, that’s all he really was, with his workman’s hands and harsh ways of offing people.

Because this is 18th novel in the series, I think there were some assumptions made by the author. She seemed to expect her readers to know the little tidbits and details, the language, the nuances of character that, as a first-time reader, I completely missed. I found it slow going, kind of boring and I didn’t find the characters to be terribly likable. The police station politics were dreary, none of the policemen were terribly interesting, except Claudia and what is up with Signorina Elettra? I found her to be really annoying.

Pam’s Picks were Borderlands by Brian McGilloway and Red Door by Charles Todd. See the sidebar for more information.