the golden egg

Title: The Golden Egg (Commissario Brunetti #22)

Author: Donna Leon

Reader: David Rintoul

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

Audio published: April 30, 2013 by AudioGo

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

In The Golden Egg, as the first leaves of autumn begin to fall, Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor violation committed by the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti has no interest in helping his boss amass political favors, but he has little choice but to comply. Then Brunetti’s wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaners has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him. To please his wife, Brunetti investigates the death, and is surprised to find nothing on the man: no birth certificate, no passport, no driver’s license, no credit cards. As far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed. And yet, there is the body. As secrets unravel, Brunetti suspects an aristocratic family might be somehow connected to the death. But why would anyone want this sweet, simple-minded man dead?

I’ve listened to several in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, which is set in Venice, but this was a new narrator. Rintoul did a good job and I do love hearing the Italian names and Venetian places, but it always takes me a chapter or two to get familiar with a reader who is not the one I usually associate with a series.

This time around the story starts with Guido, Paola and their children having dinner. They are a family who loves words and literature. I like them and I always think it’s nice to see the investigator as a family man too. Guido is a smart, compassionate man. I like him. It’s not surprising, though, that he knows how to work the politics within the police department, using what he learns working on his boss’s errand to negotiate for a couple of things he wants.

The main mystery here is an unofficial one. At Paola’s request, Brunetti looks into the dead man’s death, but what seems to be a simple accident becomes more and more suspicious as the man seems never to have existed. He needs to know why there was so much secrecy. It’s almost like he can’t stop himself from digging around.

Leon usually has social and political points of view weaved into her mysteries. This time around, however, for me it was more about the power of words, of language. How it helps us make connections, make sense of our world, relate to others. And how horrible it can be if that is purposefully taken away from us. (That might have been a bit of a spoiler. Sorry!) It was an interesting mystery, I didn’t know quite where it was headed until the end. I can’t believe how horrible some (fictional) people can be.

This is a long series and I’ve been skipping around, listening to them out of order. I think this stands well on its own, even if you don’t have the background of the other books.

Commissario Guido Brunetti Series

  1. Death  at La Fenice
  2. Death in a Strange Country
  3. Dressed for Death (APA: The Anonymous Venetian)
  4. Death and Judgment (APA: A Venetian Reckoning)
  5. Acqua Alta (APA: Death in High Water)
  6. Death of Faith (APA: Quietly in Their Sleep)
  7. A Noble Radiance
  8. Fatal Remedies
  9. Friends in High Places
  10. A Sea of Troubles
  11. Wilfull Behavior
  12. Uniform Justice
  13. Doctored Evidence
  14. Blood from a Stone
  15. Through a Glass Darkly
  16. Suffer the Little Children
  17. The Girl of His Dreams
  18. About Face
  19. A Question of Belief
  20. Drawing Conclusions
  21. Beastly Things
  22. The Golden Egg