Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

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Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A mystery with a strong environmental message: thought-provoking and engaging.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320/8h53m Date: April 2017
Publisher: William Heinemann
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785151354

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During the interrogation of an arrogant man who was suspected of giving drugs to a girl at a party and from which she subsequently died, Commissario Guido Brunetti acted impetuously to save a fellow officer's career and what he did put him on a treadmill of CPR, ambulance, hospital and clinical tests. He thought that he was alright but his wife's displeasure at what had happened and the doctor's informing him that he had stress-induced high blood pressure convinced Brunetti that he needed to take some time away from the job. On sick leave from the Questura he went to a villa on Sant'Erasmo owned by a wealthy relative of his wife. His plan was to spend his days rowing and the evenings reading.

For ten days all goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the caretaker at the villa and Brunetti's rowing companion goes missing in the laguna after a sudden storm. When no one can find where he is Brunetti feels compelled to put aside his holiday to discover what has happened to the man who had become his friend. What follows unveils to Brunetti exactly what people have been prepared to do to the environment - and the lengths to which they will go to keep it hidden.

What is shocking is just how widespread corruption is at all levels of Venetian life - and how it's almost expected. This isn't unusual in Donna Leon's books, but this time it's the environment which is suffering. The descriptions of the bee hives on the islands in the laguna are enchanting, but the bees are starting to die. For Davide Casati it seems like the last straw: it's four years since his wife died, but he's still bereft.

It's the twenty-sixth book in Leon's Commissario Brunetti series and it's a real tribute to her that she manages to keep them fresh, although corruption has featured rather heavily in her later books. Unfortunately, it's a fact of Venetian life. This time some of the regular characters take a back seat - even Paola (with her glorious meals) doesn't feature to any great extent and Brunetti largely carries the story on his own. I did wonder how well this would work, but it was actually a pleasure to see the man at play for a while and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Rather than reading the book I listened to an audio download (which I bought myself) narrated by David Rintoul, who is now my narrator of choice for the Brunetti series. His Italian pronunciation is exquisite and his range of voices, both male and female is excellent. There's no bleed through from one voice to another and I was never in any doubt as to who was speaking. I'll happily listen to a lot more from Rintoul.

Although most of the Brunetti books could - at a pinch - be read as standalones, it is better if you start with earlier books. You'll find a list of the books in chronological order here.

Buy Earthly Remains by Donna Leon at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Earthly Remains by Donna Leon with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Earthly Remains by Donna Leon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Earthly Remains by Donna Leon at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Earthly Remains by Donna Leon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Earthly Remains by Donna Leon at Amazon.com.


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