Twenty-one years ago, when a conductor was poisoned and the Questura sent a man to investigate, readers first met Commissario Guido Brunetti. Since 1992's Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon and her shrewd, sophisticated, and compassionate investigator have been delighting readers around the world. For her millions of fans, Leon's novels have opened a window into the private Venice of her citizens, a world of incomparable beauty, family intimacy, shocking crime, and insidious corruption. This internationally acclaimed, ...
Twenty-one years ago, when a conductor was poisoned and the Questura sent a man to investigate, readers first met Commissario Guido Brunetti. Since 1992's Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon and her shrewd, sophisticated, and compassionate investigator have been delighting readers around the world. For her millions of fans, Leon's novels have opened a window into the private Venice of her citizens, a world of incomparable beauty, family intimacy, shocking crime, and insidious corruption. This internationally acclaimed, bestselling series is widely considered one of the best ever written, and William Heinemann is thrilled to be publishing the twenty-second installment, The Golden Egg, in April 2013. When making routine enquiries into a possible bribery case that could embarrass the mayor - a humiliation Vice-Questore Patta is very keen to avoid - Commissario Brunetti receives a call from his wife, Paola, who is evidently very upset. The middle-aged deaf mute with the mental age of a child who helped out at the Brunetti's dry cleaners has been found dead - an 'accidental' overdose of his mother's sleeping pills - and for some reason Paola is distraught by the news. To the neighbourhood he was just the 'boy' who helped out, but nobody knew much about him - not even his name. That a soul could have lived such a joyless life is too much for Paola to bear, and she asks Guido if he can find out what happened. It is a surprise to Brunetti just how little was known about this man-child - there are no official records to show he even existed. The man's mother is angry and contradictory when questioned about his death, and Brunetti senses that there much more to the story than she is willing to tell. With the help of Inspector Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra, perhaps Brunetti can get to the truth and find some measure of solace.
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This novel is very different from the other Commissario Guido Brunetti novels. This one is much more thoughtful and sad. It says something about Brunetti's position that he is able to go off on a personal quest 'on company time.' It all comes about from a request from Guido's wife, Paola.
She has heard that the deaf/mute young man who has worked (at their local dry cleaner for years) has died from an overdose of sleeping pills. He's been seen folding clothes but no one knows his name. The assumption is that the 40 year-old is related to one of the owners. Paola thinks the young man's death is shocking and tragic; she urges Guido to find out more about it.
What Guido finds is an appalling case of hate and neglect. Several persons are involved in the events leading up to the young man's death. The difficult thing to surmise is whether the young man committed suicide or was murdered. One amazing fact is that there are no documents OF ANY KIND related to the life of the young man. How can someone life in a small country like Italy and there be no record of his life at all?
This story weaves around more than usual. The author is on her hobby horse about Italian corruption, as usual. However, this unique story will encourage the reader to do some serious thinking about the value of a single life. Who else can write a mystery that encourages a philosophical discussion on the significance of living? I would not suggest this book as an introduction to Donna Leon's fine novels. However, a regular reader will enjoy the thoughtfulness of the themes discussed in this book.
I hope that I have not dissuaded anyone from reading this book. I downgraded it based on the ambling nature of the story. Perhaps the meandering was necessary to offset the awful explanation. I'll read it again later to see if I feel the same.
1. Death at La Fenice (1992)
2. Death in a Strange Country (1993)
3. The Anonymous Venetian (1994) aka Dressed for Death
4. A Venetian Reckoning (1995) aka Death and Judgment
5. Acqua Alta (1996) aka Death in High Water
6. The Death of Faith (1997) aka Quietly in Their Sleep
7. A Noble Radiance (1997)
8. Fatal Remedies (1998) 9. Friends in High Places (1999) Dagger Awards Best Novel nominee 10. A Sea of Troubles (2001)
11. Willful Behavior (2002)
12. Uniform Justice (2003) 13. Doctored Evidence (2004)
14. Blood from a Stone (2005)
15. Through a Glass Darkly (2006)
16. Suffer the Little Children (2007)
17. The Girl of His Dreams (2008) 18. About Face (2009) 19. A Question of Belief (2010)
20. Drawing Conclusions (2011)
21. Beastly Things (2012) 22. The Golden Egg (2013)
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