Earthly Remains by Donna Leon Earthly Remains by Donna Leon
Series: Commissario Brunetti #26
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press on April 4, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
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three-half-stars

Donna Leon bestselling mystery novels have won a multitude of fans for their insider’s portrayal of Venice. From family meals to vaporetti rides, the details and rhythms of everyday life are an integral part of this beloved series. But so are the never-ending influx of tourists and the suffocating corruption. Through it all, Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti, a good man who loves his family and his city, has been an enduring figure, but in Earthly Remains, Brunetti’s endurance is tested more than ever before. During an interrogation, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he quickly comes to regret, and in the fallout, he realizes that he needs a break.

Granted leave from the Questura, Brunetti’s wife Paola ships him off to a villa owned by a wealthy relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the laguna. There he intends to pass his days rowing, and his nights reading Pliny’s Natural History. The recuperative stay goes according to plan until David Casati, the caretaker of the house, goes missing following a sudden storm. Now, Brunetti feels compelled to investigate, to set aside his leave of absence and understand what happened to the man who had become his friend.

I’ve read or listened to a fair number of the Commissario Brunetti series, but I read them out of order. It’s a bit of bad luck that both this and the one I listened to before it both deal with pollution. Yes, it’s a topic Leon keeps coming back to, apparently a major issue in Venice, but usually it’s spread out a little than it was for me this time. I would have liked a different topic, but that’s more my fault than Leon’s.

I liked that Brunetti gets out of town for a while this time around. I enjoy the early part of the story where he’s relaxing and rowing; it’s different than we usually see him. I like the people in the smaller towns, their relationships. I enjoyed the bees and how much they meant to David Casati. I missed his family a bit, but I’m sure they’ll be in the next one.

The investigation was interesting, with it’s digging into the present and the past. I was a bit disappointed, which I feel like I said about the last book of hers. I tend to want a little more resolution than she gives.

This is a great series and I enjoyed this installment. They don’t need to be read in order, however, if you’re just meeting Brunetti for the first time, I’d suggest starting with an earlier one in the series, one that’s set in Venice itself.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon ( born September 28, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey) is the American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice, Italy, featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti. In 2003, she received the Corine Literature Prize.

Leon lived in Venice for over 30 years and now resides in the small village of Val Müstair in the mountains of Grisons in Switzerland. She also has a home in Zurich. In 2020 she became a Swiss citizen. She was a lecturer in English literature for the University of Maryland University College – Europe in Italy and taught English from 1981 to 1990 at an American military base in Italy.

Her Commissario Brunetti novels all take place in or around Venice. They are written in English and have been translated into many foreign languages, but – at Leon’s request – not into Italian. The ninth Brunetti novel, Friends in High Places, won the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger in 2000. German television has produced 26 Commissario Brunetti episodes for broadcast.

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