Earthly Remains by Donna Leon
- ISBN-10: 080212772X - Paperback $16
- Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (March 20, 2018), 288 pages.
- Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.
Donna Leon’s bestselling mystery novels set in Venice have won a multitude of fans for their insider’s portrayal of La Serenissima. From family meals to coffee bars, and from vaporetti rides to the homes and apartments of Venetians, the details and rhythms of everyday life are an integral part of this beloved series. But so are the suffocating corruption, the never-ending influx of tourists, and crimes big and small. Through it all, Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti has been an enduring figure. A good man who loves his family and his city, Brunetti is relentless in his pursuit of truth and some measure of justice.
In Earthly Remains, the twenty-sixth novel in this series, Brunetti’s endurance is tested more than ever before. During an interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret. In the fallout, he realizes that he needs a break, needs to get away from the stifling problems of his work.
When Brunetti is granted leave from the Questura, his wife, Paola, suggests he stay at the villa of a 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 Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house on Sant’Erasmo, 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.
In Earthly Remains, we follow Brunetti to an island in the laguna as he takes time away from Venice and his family. Brunetti discovers that the caretaker is an old friend of his father's. As Brunetti had so little time with his father, this chance to reestablish acquaintances and to learn more about his father is important to him.
When the old man goes missing, Brunetti is compelled to investigate. But Sant'Erasmo is very different from Venice and the ties and relationships that Brunetti knows and relies on in his hometown are not helpful to him here. I enjoyed reading Earthly Remains in part because we learn more about Brunetti and his childhood but also because we're given the chance to observe his and his skills in a new place. Overall, Earthly Remains is a satisfying addition to a delightful series.
About the Author:
A New Yorker of Irish/Spanish descent, Donna Leon first went to Italy in 1965, returning regularly over the next decade or so while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, China and finally Saudi Arabia. Leon has received both the CWA Macallon Silver Dagger for Fiction and the German Corrine Prize for her novels featuring Commisario Guido Brunetti. She lives in Venice.
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