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Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

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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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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 is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and lived in Venice for over thirty years. She now makes her home in Switzerland.

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Through a Glass,Darkly by Donna Leon

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Through a Glass,Darkly by Donna Leon Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna Leon
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Commissario Brunetti #15
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on May 18, 2006
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 36 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Donna Leon opens doors to the hidden Venice like no one else. With her latest novel, Through a Glass, Darkly, Leon takes us inside the secretive island of Murano, home of the world-famous glass factories.

On a luminous spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant Vianello play hooky from the Questura in order to help Vianello's friend Marco Ribetti, arrested during an environmental protest. They secure his release, only to be faced by the fury of the man's father-in-law, Giovanni De Cal, a cantankerous glass factory owner who has been heard in the bars of Murano making violent threats about Ribetti. Brunetti's curiosity is piqued, and he finds himself drawn to Murano to investigate. Is De Cal the type of man to carry out his threats? Then one morning the body of De Cal's night watchman is found. Over long lunches, on secret boat rides, in quiet bars, and down narrow streets, Brunetti searches for the killer. Will he unravel the clues before the night watchman's death is allowed to be forgotten?

It always seems like Leon has a topic she wants to discuss and works her mystery around that. This time around it’s pollution and the environment.

This was not my favorite in the series. The mystery doesn’t really get started until maybe half way through. Up until them Brunetti is investigating even though the only “crime” was that a woman he barely knows is worried that her father will harm her husband. I’ll grant you that does tie in to the eventual mystery, but a lot of Brunetti’s investigating and thinking happens before the actual murder. And someone entirely different is killed.

I enjoy the bits of daily life, Brunetti’s conversations with his wife and kids, the delicious food. In this one, I found the glass making process interesting. It works better as a novel the a standard mystery I think.

I hated the ending. I listened to the audio version, as I always do with this series and I felt like the end wasn’t resolved enough for me. I was left with a “that’s it?” feeling.

I love the series overall, just don’t think this was one of the stronger entries.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and lived in Venice for over thirty years. She now makes her home in Switzerland.

The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon

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The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon
Narrator: David Colacci
Series: Commissario Brunetti #17
Published by AudioGO on April 22, 2008
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 8 mins
Format: Audiobook
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On a rainy morning, not long after the funeral of his mother, Commissario Brunetti and Ispettore Vianello respond to a 911 call reporting a body floating near the steps in one of Venice's side canals. Reaching down to pull it out, Brunetti's wrist is caught by the silkiness of golden hair, and he sees a small foot - together he and Vianello lift a dead girl from the water. But, inconceivably, no one has reported a missing child, nor the theft of the gold jewelry that she carries. So Brunetti is drawn into a search not only for the cause of her death but also for her identity, her family, and for the secrets that people will keep in order to protect their children - be they innocent or guilty. The investigation takes Brunetti from the canals and palazzos of Venice to a Gypsy encampment on the mainland, through quicksands of connections and relationships both known and concealed, as he struggles with both institutional prejudice and entrenched criminality to try to unravel the fate of the dead child.

We’ve got two “mysteries” in The Girl of His Dreams, the death of the girl mentioned in the blurb and a potential scam being run by a man claiming to be a priest of some kind. Both are solved even if the resolutions aren’t entirely satisfying, but I guess that’s a bit like real life, not every mystery gets tied up in a neat little bow. Sometimes politics and money and being at the right place a bit too late all get in the way.

I like Brunetti. He’s happily married and actually enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife love books and conversation. While his superior is not ideal, he’s not a loner, he works well with the competent members of the force. He cares about his case, perhaps more than he should at times.

While the mystery steers the book, the musings on life, death, religion, the mafia make it slower than the typical mystery. There is less chasing down dead ends and confronting dangerous criminal and more thoughtful investigating. Leon never shies away from political/cultural issues. Here she is mostly dealing with the Rom, how and why they live the way they do and how they interact with the rest of society. Her novels can tend toward preachy for mysteries, but I enjoy them as a change of pace.

Venice is a city I would love to visit, but in the meantime Leon’s series let’s me feel like I’m there. She is great with descriptions, from food to places to the weather.

About Donna Leon

Donna Leon is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and lived in Venice for over thirty years. She now makes her home in Switzerland.

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