Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series just keeps getting better. This is #22, and the quality is every bit as good as earlier volumes.  Set in glorious Venice, these stories have it all: beautiful scenery, a sense of the culture and daily lives of the inhabitants, well-developed and credible characters, amusing dialogue, philosophical introspection,varied plots, government corruption, and scrumptious food scenes.

In The Golden Egg, Guido Brunetti's wife Paola comes to him with a request that he look into the death of a deaf-mute young man who worked at her dry cleaners.  No one seems to know anything about him. After asking preliminary questions, both Guido and Paola sense that something isn't right. There seems to be no legal record of this man's existence, and unless he can be proved to have existed, the body can't be buried.

This is a very subtle mystery.  Leon intertwines intrigue with compassion, despair with anger, investigative skills with family connections, religion with politics, hatred with ignorance.  It's not a fast paced police procedural.  Rather it's a measured, steady unearthing of facts, motivations, and secrets.  And always it's the mind and philosophy of Guido and Paola (a university professor) that flavors the stew.  I thought I had it figured out about half-way through the book, only to find at the end that I was off base a bit.

If you haven't read any of these, this one is easy to start with.  Each can stand alone, although they are especially enjoyable reading over the years to see how the characters and their relationships develop.

Many thanks to Atlantic Monthly Press for an advance review copy through NetGalley.

Title: The Golden Egg
Author: Donna Leon
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, egalley, 256 pages
Genre: mystery- police procedural, detective
Subject: hidden family secrets, murder
Setting: Venice
Series: Commissario Brunetti
Source: ARC ebook from publisher via Net Galley


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