Monday, June 10, 2019

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson


Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson
  • ISBN-10: 1620405466 Hardcover $30.
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (June 11, 2019), 464 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.

The blurb:
For more than 5,000 years, "old" has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70.  That means most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, and many will be elders for 40 years or more.  Yet at the very moment that humans are living longer than ever before, we've made old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied.

Reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, noted Harvard-trained geriatrician Louise Aronson uses stories from her quarter century of caring for patients, and draws from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life to weave a vision of old age that's neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy -- a vison full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage, and hope about aging, medicine and humanity itself.

Review:
I find myself sharing stories from Elderhood with friends and family.  Elderhood discusses how the lack of resources and research placed on the treatment of older patients leads to uneven and inadequate medical treatment.  The is gap is attributable to doctors, hospitals, drug companies, etc but the dangers of errors - big and small - are almost incalculable. 

I found Aronson's Elderhood is as engrossing and as informative as Mukerjee's Emperor of All Maladies.  While Aronson focuses on anecdotes and examples more than Mukerjee's examples in medical history, Aronson writes clearly, succinctly and eloquently.  Elderhood is makes strong arguments for reform in medicine and I hope that doctors in all areas of medicine read this book.

About the Author:
Louise Aronson, MD is a doctor, writer, and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Fransisco.  The author of A History of Present Illness, she has received a MacDowell fellowship, the Sonora Review proize, and four Pushcart nominations.  In medicine, she has been recognized with a Gold Professorship for Humanism, the California Homecare Physician of the Year award, and the American Geriatrics Society Geriatrician of the Year award.  Her writing has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Narrative Magazine, New England Journal of Medicine, and Bellevue Literary Review. She lives in San Fransisco where she cares for older patients and directs UCSF Health Humanities.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok


Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
  • ISBN-10: 0062834304 - Hardcover $30
  • Publisher: William Morrow (June 4, 2019), 336 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss.

 The blurb:
It begins with a mystery. Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother - and then vanishes. 

Amy, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Seven years older, Sylvie was raised by a distant relative in a faraway, foreign place, and didn't rejoin her family in America until age nine.  Timid and shy, Amy has always looked up to her sister, the fierce and fearless protector who showered her with unconditional love.

But what happened to Sylvie? Amy and her parents are distraught and desperate for answers, Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it's Amy's turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister's movements, flying to the last place Sylvie was seen.  But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth.  Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets. . . secrets that will reveal more about Amy's complicated family - and herself - than she ever could have imagined.

Review:
I'd loved Jean Kwok's earlier novels and was not sure how different Searching for Sylvie Lee would be.  I thoroughly enjoyed Searching for Sylvie Lee. It was unexpected and drew me in.  Kwok's earlier stories had focused on a young Asian American woman's coming of age story.  While Searching for Sylvie Lee  delivers this depth and drama as we learn about Sylvie and her sister Amy and their family's sacrifices, this latest work also incorporates a mystery.

When Sylvie Lee disappears while visiting her dying grandmother in the Netherlands, her younger sister Amy takes her first big trip overseas to find out what happened to her big sister.  Sylvie had always seemed so successful with her top grades, her Princeton degree, her old money WASP husband and her job as a management consultant.  Amy only starts to see the cracks in her sister's life when she is led to search for her sister.  

Searching for Sylvie Lee still has the sympathy and sensitivity towards the Lee family's difficult move to the USA but this is only one part of the family story.  As we learn about what her grandmother, her mother and father gave up, we grow to care about the Lee and Tan families.  Jean Kwok has delivered another heartbreaking, beautiful read. 

About the Author:
Jean Kwok is the New York Times and international bestselling author of Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in eighteen countries and is taught in universities, colleges, and high schools across the world.  She has been selected for numerous honors, including the American Library Association Alex Award, the Chinese American Librarian Association Best Book Award, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award international shortlist.  She received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University and earned an MFA from Columbia University. She is fluent in Chinese, Dutch, and English, and currently lives in the Netherlands.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes as adapted by Rebecca Stefoff



Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes (adapted by Rebecca Stefoff)
  • ISBN-10: 1609809173 - Paperback $17.95
  • Publisher: Triangle Square (May 28, 2019), 368 pages. 
  • Grade Level: 7 - 9, Ages 12 and up
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewer's Program.

The blurb:
Weaving together the behind-the-scenes history of the Eiffel Tower with an account of the 1889 World's Fair in Paris for which the tower was built, Jonnes and Stefoff create a vibrant tableau of people and cultures meeting -- and competing.

Art, science, business, entertainment, gossip, royalty, and national pride mingle in an unforgettable portrait of a unique moment in history, when Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley became the toasts of Paris and Gustave Eiffel, builder of the tower, rose to the pinnacle of fame, only to suffer a tragic fall from grace.

Above all, the 1889 World's Fair revolved around two nations, whose potent symbols were the twin poles of the fair.  France, with its long history of sophistication and cultivation, and with a new republican government eager for the country to take its place at the forefront of the modern world, presented the Eiffel Tower - the world's tallest structure - as a symbol of national pride and engineering superiority.  The United States, with its brash, can-do spirit, full of pride in its frontier and its ingenuity, presented the rollicking Wild West show of Buffalo Bill Cody and the marvelous phonograph of Thomas Edison.

Eiffel, Cody, Oakley and Edison are just a few of the characters in Jonnes and Stefoff's dramatic history. There are also squabbling artists, a notorious newspaperman, and a generous sprinkling of royalty from around the world.  Some of them emerge at the close of the World's Fair of 1889 winners, some losers, but neither they nor any among the vast crowds attending the fair ever forgot what they saw there. The drama, colors, crowds and personalities that made Jonnes's bestselling adult book so fascinating and acclaimed, are all here in spades as adapted for middle grade and above by Steffof.

Review:
I ordered Eiffel's Tower in part for my niece and partly for myself.  The current Jeopardy champion James H. mentioned that he prepared for the championship by reading Young People's versions of nonfiction books because they convey the information in an engrossing manner.  Eiffel's Tower is an example of effective writing for young people.

Eiffel's Tower tells the story of the World's Fair in Paris, France in 1889, the anniversary of the French Revolution.  The French government holds a contest for a monument that will reflect France's progress and enlightenment.  Most European countries are still monarchies and most refuse to participate in the World's Fair.  The USA and France do compete and France is eager to prove its scientific prowess.

Eiffel's design is controversial and Eiffel's Tower goes into the difficulties that he faced with the engineering, the financing, and its execution. He dealt with labor strikes, with difficult weather, with vast engineering problems in the construction and even with the elevators.  Jill Jonnes and Rebecca Stefoff cover these issues clearly and without dumbing them down. Instead, she conveys information on competition, trademark, labor laws, partnership and distributorship agreements in a way that makes sense for ordinary people and for young people eager to learn.

Jill Jonnes and Rebecca Stefoff tell the story of the World's Fair through Eiffel, through Thomas Edison and his amazing technological inventions (and his disputes with his business partners) and his emphasis on self-promotion, through Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill who further enhance their reputations with the demonstrations of their shooting prowess.  But in Eiffel's Tower,  Jill Jonnes and Rebecca Stefoff do not gloss over the plight of the Native Americans that accompanied Buffalo Bill during his shows or of the workers that continued under difficult conditions to complete the Eiffel Tower in time for the opening of the World's Fair.

This is a book that shares stories and conveys information and makes another place and time come vividly alive.

About the Authors:
Jill Jonnes, who holds a PhD in American History from Johns Hopkins University, is the author previously of Eiffel's Tower, Conquering Gotham, Empires of Light, and South Bronx Rising.  Founder of the nonprofit Baltimore Tree Trust, she is leading the Baltimore City Forestry Board's new initiative, Baltimore's Flowering Tree Trails.

As a staff member of the 2010 Presidential National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, she wrote the first chapter of the report Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling.  In the fall of 2011, she was a scholar studying Trees as Green Infrastructure at teh Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Jonnes was also named a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation.  She lives in the Baltimore area.

Rebecca Stefoff has devoted her career to writing nonfiction books for young readers.  Her publications include histories, literary biographies, an encyclopedia of maps, and  numerous books on science and environmental issues.  She has also adapted a number of landmark works in history and science, including Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee, Charles C. Mann's bestselling 1493, and Ronald Takaki's A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tin Badges by Lorenzo Carcaterra


Tin Badges by Lorenzo Carcaterra
  • ISBN-10: 0345483928 - Hardcover $28.
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 27, 2019), 304 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:
A top NYPD detective is pulled out of retirement to take down a notorious drug dealer. But will he risk the only family he’s ever had to crack the case?

As one of the NYPD’s most trusted “tin badges”—retired detectives brought in to solve cases that are beyond the reach of the everyday force—Tank Rizzo has faced off against some of the city’s toughest criminals without breaking a sweat. To tackle a case involving a dangerous kingpin known as Gonzo, Tank turns to his best friend and ex-partner, Pearl; a former mobster living out a seemingly quiet retirement as the owner of Tank’s favorite Italian restaurant; and a team of expert misfits he would trust with his life. But Gonzo will stop at nothing to defend the empire he's built, and won't hesitate to make it personal.

Then Tank gets a call telling him that his brother and sister-in-law, estranged from him for many years, have been killed in a horrific car accident. Tank is the only family left for his orphaned teenage nephew, Chris, although he knows his lifestyle is ill-suited to win him father of the year.

Chris moves in with Tank, and the two circle each other warily. It’s only when Chris reveals an interest in true crime and a genius-level skill with computers that they begin to bond. Chris’s skills may be exactly what Tank’s team needs to take Gonzo down—but getting him involved could put his life at risk.


Review:
I devoured Tin Badges in one day.  I hadn't realized that Lorenzo Carcaterra had also written one of my recent favorites, The Wolf, because the stories were very different.

Tin Badges is a detective thriller - set in today's New York with retired Tank Rizzo and his partner Pearl and their team of unorthodox crimefighters.  Tank and Pearl were forced into retirement after significant, debilitating injuries in the line of duty. While Tank and Pearl are unable to work as regular police, their Captain gives them cold cases to solve.

The latest cold case leads to an eruption of violence and a link to a dangerous drug ring. Just as Tank and Pearl undertake to solve this case, Tank's younger brother is killed and Tank takes in his teenage nephew, Chris. Chris has plenty of anger and resentment against the uncle that was absent his entire life.  But Tank and Chris share an interest in solving crimes/mysteries.  Chris is a tech wizard and wants to help the team solve the latest mystery.  When their investigation leads gun wielding criminals to attack those close to Tank, Tank and Pearl must decide how far to take the fight.

I loved the characters - beyond Pearl, Tank and Chris  we have Tank's girl friend, the daughter of a "connected" boss, the retired mafioso (old school and with principles), the unconventional crime fighting team and their close relationships.  Tin Badges introduces us to a team of unorthodox skills and players their adventure draws us in.  Tin Badges is an engrossing, fun read!

About the Author:
Lorenzo Carcaterra is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Safe PlaceSleepersApachesGangsterStreet BoysParadise CityChasersMidnight Angels, and The Wolf. He is a former writer/producer for Law & Order and has written for National Geographic TravelerThe New York Times Magazine, and Maxim. He lives in New York City and is at work on his next novel.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Satapur Moonstone (a Perveen Mistry mystery) by Sujata Massey


The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
  • ISBN-10: 1616959096 - Hardcover $26.95
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (May 14, 2019), 360 pages.
Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss and Amazon Vine Reviewers Program. 


The blurb:
India, 1922: It is rainy season in the lush, remote Sahyadri mountains, where the princely state of Satapur is tucked away. A curse seems to have fallen upon Satapur’s royal family, whose maharaja died of a sudden illness shortly before his teenage son was struck down in a tragic hunting accident. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur’s two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.
 
The royal ladies are in a dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer’s counsel is required. However, the maharanis live in purdah and do not speak to men. Just one person can help them: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer. Perveen is determined to bring peace to the royal house and make a sound recommendation for the young prince’s future, but she arrives to find that the Satapur palace is full of cold-blooded power plays and ancient vendettas. Too late, she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace’s deadly curse?

Review:
I've read Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura mysteries and loved them. So, I was excited to meet her latest heroine Perveen Mistry.  The mysteries are set in the 1920s, during the British Raj period.

Perveen Mistry is wealthy, connected, Oxford educated and the first woman lawyer in Bombay. She's fortunate that her family has one of the top law firms in the country, but their established clients are wary of working with a woman.  Perveen finds a way to turn her "handicap" into a plus, she decides to represent wealthy upper caste women who observe purdah and consequently do not interact with men.  As the first woman solicitor in Bombay, Perveen's sex is a disadvantage, her wealth, connections, and intelligence help her navigate tricky waters.

Perveen's longtime friend from Oxford has moved to India where her father is a high level official in the British Raj.  Sir David offers Perveen a unique commission - to represent the British's Kolhapur Agency which has authority over 25 princely and feudal states and help to adjudicate conflict between two royal women in a northern princely state.  Two maharajahs have died recently and the current maharajah is a child. The child's grandmother and mother have conflicting opinions on his education and they have reached out to Kolhapur Agency to help decide the matter.  

Perveen agrees to travel to Satapur and to meet with the British official and the Maharanis of Satapur.  Train, planaquin, and the visit to centuries old palaces fascinates Perveen and makes The Sarapur Moonstone a unique read.   The actual adventure comes with intrigue, tiger hunts, betrayal and characters that are easy to care about.  I found The Satapur Moonstone a delight and I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

About the Author:
Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. Her novels have won the Agatha and Macavity awards and been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark prizes. The first Perveen Mistry novel, The Widows of Malabar Hill, was an international bestseller. Visit her website at sujatamassey.com.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion


The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion
  • ISBN-10: 1925773825 - Paperback $16.99
  • Publisher: Text Publishing Company (May 28, 2019), 386 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:
Don and Rosie are about to face their most important project.
Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school: his teachers say he isn’t fitting in with the other kids, and they'd like Don and Rosie to think about getting an autism assessment. As his parents debate whether a diagnosis might help or hinder, Hudson has his own ideas. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards.
For Don Tillman, geneticist and World’s Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new. It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world, and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity.
And opening a cocktail bar.


Review:
Graeme Simsion's Don Tillman character is one of my all-time favorites.  The first book, The Rosie Project, had me laughing so loudly that I was getting strange looks from my husband.  I was worried that the next books would not be as good, but fortunately each of the books is a treat!
The Rosie Result is the third in the series and introduces us to Rosie and Don's son Hudson.  Hudson has many of Don's traits and their lives seem to have many parallels.  It is clear that the people around them either don't fully understand them or refuse to accept their strengths. It's a hard period for Don but even tougher for his middle school /11-year old son.  
It isn't just that there are bullies or that the teachers and administrators make mean, humiliating, degrading comments.  Don worries that the loneliness that he felt throughout his childhood and young adult life will follow his son Hudson around. It's something that Don undertakes to prevent in his usual methodical, systematic way. However, no matter how carefully prepared, Don's plans don't go as he hoped.  Fortunately, Hudson has his own strategy and strengths.  
The Rosie Result brings some of our favorite characters in tough, real situations with plenty of humor.  Don's honest and innate kindness come shining through. 

About the Author:
Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn his hand to fiction. His first novel, The Rosie Project, was published in 2013 and translation rights have been sold in over thirty-five languages. Graeme lives in Australia with his wife, Anne, and their two children.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Dr. Neal Barnard's The Vegan Starter Kit: Everything You Need to Know About Plant-Based Eating


The Vegan Starter Kit:Everything You Need to Know About Plant-Based Eating 
 by Dr Neal Barnard
  • ISBN-10: 1538747405 - Paperback $14.99
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (December 24, 2018), 176 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher.

The blurb:
Many are looking to adopt a more healthful diet but may have questions, like: How do I plan a vegan meal? Is protein an issue? How do I make it work if I don't cook? Which are the best choices at restaurants? 

In THE VEGAN STARTER KIT Dr. Neal Barnard, perhaps the world's most respected authority on vegan diets, answers your questions and gives you everything you need to put vegan power to work. You'll learn how to ensure complete nutrition, and get quick-reference charts for calcium sources, tips for modifying your favorite recipes, and examples of quick and easy meals. Everything you need for permanent weight control and dramatically better health is presented.

THE VEGAN STARTER KIT also includes information on healthy eating in childhood, pregnancy, and other stages of life, and a complete set of basic meals, holiday feasts, snacks, among many other features. 


Review:
I've been a carnivore most of my life and hadn't considered becoming vegetarian much less vegan.  However, my doctor and my husband's doctor suggested that we reduce our meat intake and spoke of how undertaking a plant based diet can make a huge difference in our cholesterol levels, reduce hypertension, and help lose weight. 

There is a pilot program at Bellevue Hospital in NYC that we were fortunate enough to enter last week, so I read The Vegan Starter Kit with this new perspective and desire to understand plant based diets.  

Dr Neal Barnard presents strong health based arguments for a plant based diet which helped my resolve. The book is straightforward, logical and not overly complicated. I finished it in an evening but spent more time over the various recipes. If you are considering making a change, reducing your meat and dairy intake, The Vegan Starter Kit is a good way to begin.

About the Author:
Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC, is perhaps the world's most respected authority on vegan diets. He is a faculty member of the George Washington University School of Medicine and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Dr. Barnard is editor-in-chief of the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, a nutrition textbook given to all second-year medical students in the U.S. He is also editor of Good Medicine, a magazine with a circulation of 150,000. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes and The 21-Day Weight-Loss Kickstart, among many others.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Triple Jeopardy: A Daniel Pitt novel by Anne Perry


Triple Jeopardy: A Daniel Pitt novel  by Anne Perry
  • ISBN-10: 0525620958 - Hardcover $28
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 9, 2019), 320 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:
Daniel Pitt, along with his parents, Charlotte and Thomas, is delighted that his sister, Jemima, and her family have returned to London from the States for a visit. But the Pitts soon learn of a harrowing incident: In Washington, D.C., one of Jemima’s good friends has been assaulted and her treasured necklace stolen. The perpetrator appears to be a man named Philip Sidney, a British diplomat stationed in America’s capital who, in a cowardly move, has fled to London, claiming diplomatic immunity. But that claim doesn’t cover his other crimes. . . .

When Sidney winds up in court on a separate charge of embezzlement, it falls to Daniel to defend him. Daniel plans to provide only a competent enough defense to avoid a mistrial, allowing the prosecution to put his client away. But when word travels across the pond that an employee of the British embassy in Washington has been found dead, Daniel grows suspicious about Sidney’s alleged crimes and puts on his detective hat to search for evidence in what has blown up into an international affair.

As the embezzlement scandal heats up, Daniel takes his questions to intrepid scientist Miriam fford Croft, who brilliantly uses the most up-to-date technologies to follow an entirely new path of investigation. Daniel and Miriam travel to the Channel Islands to chase a fresh lead, and what began with a stolen necklace turns out to have implications in three far greater crimes—a triple jeopardy, including possible murder.

Review:
I'm an avid reader of Anne Perry's mysteries and was excited to read the latest in her recent series with Daniel Pitt, Thomas Pitt's son.  Thomas Pitt's adventures began as a policeman, then as a private detective, the Inspector in charge of the waterways, and then as the Head of Special Branch.  His son, Daniel. faces mysteries but as a young attorney.

This time Daniel is asked by his sister to look into the assault and robbery of a friend of theirs in Washington DC. Jemima and her policeman husband believe that the man attacked and robbed their friend worked at the British Embassy in DC and was able to escape prosecution through invoking diplomatic immunity and traveling to England.  So, Daniel's been asked to defend the young man for another offense but to possibly bring in the crimes of assault and robbery.  Daniel's a junior lawyer and gets the advice and permission of those senior to him, but their investigation leads Daniel to question his client's guilt. 

As Daniel independently investigates, he grows certain that there is something hidden that guides these accusations.  Jemima and her husband must also balance those that helped them during their early years in America with their own sense of fairness and truth.  How far can Daniel rely on Jemima and her husband? How much of the testimony is true? What is pushing the investigation forward? 

Triple Jeopardy gives us better insight into Daniel's strengths and the lengths to which the Pitt family will fight to pursue justice regardless of the personal cost. Also, it's a fun, engrossing read! Highly recommend it!

About the Author:
Anne Perry is the New York Times bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Tide Rising and An Echo of Murder, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Murder on the Serpentine and Treachery at Lancaster Gate. She is also the author of a new series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s son, Daniel, including Triple Jeopardy and Twenty-one Days, as well as five World War I novels, sixteen holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Revelation, and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. Anne Perry lives in Los Angeles. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Donna Leon's Unto Us a Son Is Given (Inspector Guido Brunetti 29th novel)


Unto Us a Son Is Given by Donna Leon

  • ISBN-10: 0802129110 Hardcover $26
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (March 5, 2019), 320 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:“Your situation is always ambiguous, isn’t it, Guido?”, his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier, observes of Donna Leon’s soulful detective, Guido Brunetti, at the beginning of her superb 28th Brunetti novel, Unto Us A Son Is Given. “The world we live in makes that necessary,” Brunetti presciently replies. Count Falier was urging his Venetian son-in-law to investigate, and preferably intervene in, the seemingly innocent plan of the Count’s best friend, the elderly Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejada, to adopt a much younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws this man would then be heir to Gonzalo’s entire fortune, a prospect Gonzalo’s friends find appalling. For his part, Brunetti wonders why the old man, a close family friend, can’t be allowed his pleasure in peace.


And yet, what seems innocent on the Venetian surface can cause tsunamis beneath. Gonzalo unexpectedly, and literally, drops dead on the street, and one of his friends just arrived in Venice for the memorial service, is strangled in her hotel room―having earlier sent Gonzalo an email saying “We are the only ones who know you cannot do this,” referring to the adoption. Now with an urgent case to solve, Brunetti reluctantly untangles the long-hidden mystery in Gonzalo’s life that ultimately led to murder―a resolution that brings him way more pain than satisfaction.


Review:


I've followed and enjoyed Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti series for years. Her latest novel, Unto Us a Son Is Given, gives us a  deeper glimpse into Brunetti's relationship with his father-in-law, the Count Falier.  The Count's best friend Gonzalo has become deeply involved with a younger man and is taking steps to disinherit his family by adopting this young man, effectively naming him his sole heir.  Brunetti, Paula and their children consider Gonzalo practically part of the family, so Brunetti is unsure whether to intervene and in what capacity.

As Brunetti speaks to more of Gonzalo's friends, he grows increasingly apprehensive of the young man's influence and of Gonzalo's infatuation.  Brunetti conducts his own quiet investigation - there is no crime - to help and protect Gonzalo but must also balance Gonzalo's wishes.  Gonzalo's health has been bad and his death makes the investigation moot.  Until a death occurs and Brunetti must determine the motive behind it and prove the killer's identity.

Donna Leon delivers an unusual mystery in that the crime occurs towards the 25% of the novel.  However, she keeps us engrossed throughout because of Brunetti, Gonzalo, and our concern for the friendships involved.  I thoroughly enjoyed Unto Us a Son Is Given.

About the Author:
Donna Leon is the author of the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Donna Leon lived in Venice for many years and now divides her time between Venice and Switzerland.