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text 2018-01-19 14:56
Reading progress update: I've read 93 out of 304 pages.
The Waters of Eternal Youth (A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery) - Donna Leon

so far, Im enjoying this. Brunetti has had to play office-politics with finesse, in order to get official permission to work on the cold case where there may not have even been an actual crime (I think there was, or else where is this book going?). meanwhile, I don't know much about modern day-to-day life in Venice--and I know that I'm currently getting it through a fiction writer's brain before it made the pages--but what I'm encountering here is fascinating. some social maladies do seem universal.

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text 2018-01-19 02:18
Reading progress update: I've read 46 out of 304 pages.
The Waters of Eternal Youth (A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery) - Donna Leon

thought I would only do about 20 pages of this tonight--a bit tired from an early rising this morning--but I made it, happily, to good ol' page 46. the cold case Guido Brunetti has been asked to look into by an aging family friend is not a murder; fifteen years earlier a woman almost drowned in a canal--maybe pushed in by a mystery assailant, maybe not--and even though she was pulled out by a drunk and saved, her extended time being submerged affected her brain. an 86-year-old Contessa wants to know the truth of why this happened to her granddaughter, and Brunetti, not confident that he can solve this puzzle from fifteen faded years earlier, comes to realize, during verbal entreaties and information snippets, that he wants to know too. 

 

anxious to pick this one up again tomorrow.

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text 2018-01-18 02:57
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 304 pages.
The Waters of Eternal Youth (A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery) - Donna Leon

off to Venice, with my first Donna Leon novel, where I will keep company with Commissario Guido Brunetti as he deals with a cold case. excited!

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review 2017-06-22 11:29
Earthly Remains - Donna Leon

Commissario Brunetti’s rash actions in an interview lead to unforeseen consequences and the detective is left facing what he wants from work. Eager to escape the confines of the Questura he takes two weeks leave, escaping to the villa of a relative of his wife.

There he plans to row and to read. He befriends Davide Casasi, the caretaker of the villa and the two spend days out on the Laguna. But during a storm Davide goes missing and when tragedy strikes Brunetti is compelled to find out what happened.

 

There is something wonderful about reading the latest book in a beloved series. And sitting down to read Earthly Remains was a treat I savoured and devoured. Try as I might I couldn’t eek out reading the book and I soon found myself racing through it.

It is always a joy to return to Venice and to be again in the company of Brunetti and his family and colleagues. It feels like revisiting old friends, catching up with what they have been doing since the last novel.

 

Brunetti is the anti-thesis of the stereo-typical fictional detective. He is happily married, still in love with his wife after over 30 years together. He has a stable family and a network of friends. He likes his job but is aware of its pitfalls – in particular his boss, Patta and his sycophantic side-kick Scarpa. He is not afraid to bend the rules and is more than belligerent towards the state of the politics and bureaucracy rife in Italy. He is also well aware of the limits of the justice system and that some things don’t always work out for the best.

 

In Earthly Remains the story is much more focussed on Brunetti and indeed for the first third of the book the narrative is focussed on him away from his role as police officer. It is also a pleasant change to see him out of his comfort zone by not being surrounded by his family and friends. It was interesting to see him function without Paola, his support network and it was even interesting to see him fend for himself and cook meals, though not the grand affairs usually provided for by Paola and which may the reader wish they were invited for dinner.

 

The prose conjures up Calles and beautiful vistas. I could imagine the hoards of tourists wandering the bridges and canals and see the clear waters of the Laguna away from the city. Venice is very much a central character in these novels and so it is the case in Earthy Remains. The way of life, the battling with the heat and with the rising waters of the Aqua Alta. The beauty of the city is never far away, sometimes fading into the background then suddenly thrown into focus.

 

This is book 26 in the series though it can be read as a standalone. I love the series and would recommend that if you like this novel you go back and read the series from the beginning. The series is very much character based and part of the appeal of the books is watching the family and friends age and develop stronger ties. Much like real life there are not always happy endings, or endings that tie up nicely. There are what ifs and unsettling situations, conclusions and abruptness. But there are also points where truth does out and where love rules supreme, again, much like reality.

 

As is often the case with Donna Leon’s novels Earthly Remains is more than just a crime novel. It is a social commentary on the state of politics, of corruption, of human nature and in this instance a commentary on the environment. It examines what humans have done to the planet, their self-righteousness in doing so and also their despair.

 

Donna Leon’s novels reflect the true nature of life. There are not always happy endings, sometimes justice isn’t served. Don’t expect everything to be rounded off, to be completed. Because life isn’t always like that. But do expect to be transported to a beautiful city, to meet a variety of characters ranging from wonderful to exasperating, to read about crimes that are sometimes tragic, sometimes perhaps more well deserved and to be entertained. Because sometimes life is like that too.

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review 2017-02-02 11:12
By Its Cover - Donna Leon

Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to a library in Venice. Someone has been stealing valuable books. Even worse, pages have been taken from others, leaving the remaining tomes worthless. Brunetti believes that something other than petty theft and vandalism is involved. His investigation takes him into Venice high society and leads him to a former priest who frequents the library. When he is murdered the investigation takes a deeper turn.

 

I’m a long time Donna Leon fan. Reading her latest book is like going home. I wallow in the comfort of being surrounded by familiar characters, watching them develop over the years. In fact her books for me are as much about these characters as they are about the crime being investigated.

 

As always Venice is itself an integral character in the book. I could imagine myself wandering the Calles and canals of the ancient city. I am always easily transported by Donna Leon to this beautiful part of Italy and her love for the city shines through the book as it does in all the others in the series.

 

Also a word of advice. Don’t read this book if you are hungry. The description of the meals eaten  by the Brunetti clan are enough to make your mouth water.

 

The story itself was interesting. I had worked out what had happened and who was the culprit before the reveal but this did not spoil my enjoyment. There have been other readers who have commented on the abrupt ending. However I find that Donna Leon’s books rarely have that neat finish to them that most crime novels contain. This would normally irritate me as I prefer finality in a novel, or to know that the story is to continue. With Brunetti I know I should not expect such a tying up of loose ends. Indeed there have been stories in the past where Brunetti has been unable to do as he would like due to bureaucracy or other external forces and I suppose this is more true to life.

 

I am looking forward to reading the 24th book in the Brunetti series, Falling in Love, as soon as I get my hands on a copy.

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