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Beastly Things: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery (Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries) Hardcover – April 3, 2012

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Product Details

  • Series: Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120236
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“As if Brunetti weren’t already steaming about the ‘mindless, atavistic greed’ motivating everything from the shabby practices of the banking industry to the irresponsible dredging of the Grand Canal, Leon hits him with a crime that really tries his soul … So he takes his pleasures where he can—at home with his family, in his favorite coffee bars and on long walks around Venice – but after this case, the city he loves will never be quite the same for him.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Followers of the series and lovers of Venice will appreciate Leon’s fascinating details of life in this unique city. … This is a strong series entry.”—Dan Forrest, Library Journal

“Through the 21 novels in her much-loved Guido Brunetti series, Leon has tackled various social issues, from human trafficking through immigration policy and sexual abuse, always with great sensitivity toward not only the criminal aspects of the issue but also the more ambiguous toll that societal malfunction takes on individual lives. So it is again in this wrenching tale of the murder of a quiet veterinarian, the victim of a tragedy of almost classical dimensions. … A seemingly straightforward mystery written with such delicacy and emotional force that we can’t help but be reminded of Greek tragedy.” —Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)

"It is a pleasure for a reader to settle in to one of Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, once again to have one of those glorious Italian lunches with his wife, Paola, and their children, Raffi and Chiara, and to learn, as we do in Beastly Things, which part of the seamy underside of Venetian life Brunetti will now uncover. ...This time, a body is found in one of the canals. It is eventually identified as a local veterinarian, Dottore Nava, well-loved by his patients and their owners. ... The way Brunetti figures out what happened and who killed Nava is first-rate Donna Leon plotting."—Valerie Ryan, Shelf Awareness

Beastly Things, Donna Leon’s 21st Commissario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice, doesn’t disappoint. All her trademark strengths shine in this swiftly paced, sophisticated tale of greed versus ethics.”—Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times

“[A] fine atmospheric novel … Twenty-one books on, she has lost none of her delightful skill and wit.”—Mark Sanderson, Evening Mail (UK)

"The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti Venetian police procedural is a super whodunit... Brunetti and Vianello are marvelous as they piece together clues mostly using old fashion shoe leather but also ably supported by the IT gurus Signorina Elettra and Pucetti." -The Midwest Book Review

"Brunetti is, as always, a canny commentator on Italian culture... However, it is in the poignant closing scene... where Leon's singular talents truly shine." -Book Page

"What a pleasure it is to greet Guido Brunetti... a man comfortable in his own skin, complete with quirks, foibles, and all... But, as in many of Leon's stories, the procedural is a stepping stone to bigger problems undermining the magic of Venice: venality and greed, flourishing as ever." -Christian Science Monitor

“Like Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1930s, Guido Brunetti has accumulated depth and subtlety book by book. In Beastly Things he learns, the hard way, unpleasant facts about the meat industry that have long since made vegetarians of his daughter and Inspector Vianello. Leon has never written a more powerful sequence than the chapter in Beastly Things where Brunetti and Vianello visit a busy slaughterhouse. … Set, as always, against the living background of Venice itself, and the family background that keeps Brunetti’s moral compass straight while letting him enjoy good food, wine, and loving support, Beastly Things is a quietly satisfying celebration of the series’s twenty-first birthday. Long may it continue.”—Peter Green, The New Republic

“Brunetti’s challenges make for scintillating reading.”—Randy Dotinga, The Christian Science Monitor

"One of the most attractive serial detectives of contemporary fiction. ... The unravelling of this intricate plot is very satisfying, yet the real pleasure of this novel lies in its evocation of a city whose shimmering beauty is set against the encroaching predations of the Mafia; a city where proper jobs are so rare that most young adults live at home with their parents, studying or wasting time; a place where your only real safety comes from having, say, four Doges in your ancestry, or a father with such powerful influence that nobody dares cross him."—Sue Gaisford, The Independent (UK)

About the Author

Donna Leon was named by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers. She is an award-winning crime novelist, celebrated for the bestselling Brunetti series. Donna has lived in Venice for thirty years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Donna's books have been translated into 35 languages and have been published around the world. Her previous novels featuring Commissario Brunetti have all been highly acclaimed; including Friends in High Places, which won the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, Fatal Remedies, Doctored Evidence, A Sea of Troubles and Beastly Things. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

The ending was not particularly a surprise and it was much more character development than mystery.
Nancy F.
This was another wonderful glimpse into life in Venice --the struggles with corruption that we have everywhere.
Donna Leon has been holding very well, in a long series of books about Venice and Commissario Brunetti.
Claude Lambert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First a bit of back-story: Last year about this time when Donna Leon was in Washington promoting her latest Brunetti novel, "Drawing Conclusions," someone in the audience asked her where she gets her ideas. So she told us a bit about the Brunetti novel she was then writing, which was this one. She said she'd seen a most unusual looking man on a train one day and later learned he was a victim of a rare condition called Madelung's disease. Then a little later at the dry cleaner's she spotted someone she'd known slightly many years earlier. Inspiration struck and in next to no time, a Madelung man would become her next murder victim, the physique and persona of the former acquaintance would attach itself to a prime suspect, and "Beastly Things" would take off from there.

"Beastly Things" opens at the morgue, with Brunetti looking at the newly arrived and odd-bodied corpse that had just been pulled out of the canal with three knife wounds in his back and no identification on him, while Rizzardi, the coroner, explains most interestingly the man's rare condition. It will then take quite a while for Brunetti and Vianello to discover who the victim was, but eventually they learn he was not a Venetian, but a man from the nearby inland town of Mestre. In short order their investigation will center on a slaughterhouse and what appears to be some nefarious goings-on there.

As longtime Leon fans will know, up until "Drawing Conclusions" the Brunetti novels all featured two concurrent cases.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I always learn something while reading Donna Leon's mysteries. For instance, although I'd seen the vu compra, the African immigrant street vendors, in Venice, I didn't know anything about them until I read Blood from a Stone (2005).

In this latest Commissario Brunetti mystery, Beastly Things, we learn about slaughterhouses and the meat processing industry. A visit to the slaughterhouse leaves even toughened cops Brunetti and Inspector Vianello speechless. And while they don't actually skip lunch afterward, they both opt for vegetarian sandwiches.

Beastly Things doesn't stand out among Leon's mysteries, but it is a dependable police procedural that keeps the murder in the forefront throughout. Some of her recent books have concentrated more on issues of the day rather than the mystery.

Of interest apart from the case itself were some apparent doubts expressed by Vianello and Brunetti as they once again turned to the Questura's (police headquarters) secretary, Signorina Elettra, to hack into databases they have no legal right to access. They wonder if they rely too much on Elettra's technical wizardry. Leon herself might have been asking the question of herself, at least as it regards the solutions to many of her mysteries, which often rely on Signorina Elettra's unofficial discoveries. Even as a reader, I wonder if I would be as amused if the unpleasant Lieutenant Scarpa or if Brunetti himself were doing the hacking? Elettra is such an engaging character that I look forward to her hacking exploits.

It's no coincidence that Leon has Brunetti's English professor wife, Paola, tussling with an ethical dilemma of her own. Not surprisingly, Paola comes to a decision that will allow her to sleep at night. Brunetti, once again forced to choose between doing the right thing and the legal thing, doesn't have that luxury.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Stephen T. Hopkins VINE VOICE on April 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Fans of the Donna Leon novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti will enjoy this 21st installment in a reliable and consistent series set in Venice. Titled Beastly Things, the novel opens with the homicide of a veterinarian. While Guido investigates the case, his wife, Paola, struggles with an issue of her own at the university. As expected, both Guide and Paola find ways to reach the right resolution. The scenes of Brunetti and his sidekick Vianello visiting a slaughterhouse were more vivid than some readers might appreciate, and the good character and decency of some characters provides a striking contrast to the criminals. By the time Leon shifts to pets as companions at the end of the novel, most readers will have become vegetarians.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat on April 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
A vet is found dead in one of the canals though at first Brunetti has no idea who or what he is. It is some time before careful investigation reveals who the dead man is. Brunetti is as ever dubious about the corruption he sees going on all around him and he is gradually developing an environmental conscience too.

When he discovers that the dead man worked for an abattoir and ran a clinic for pet animals he sets Signorina Elettra to work on finding out whether there could be a connection between either of his jobs and his death. What he finds shocks him to the core and overturns some of his long held beliefs.

The scenes at the abattoir are very well done and show how less is more if you want readers to realise the full horror of a situation. Both Brunetti and Vianello are stunned and rendered speechless for quite a while by what they see and hear. These scenes and the ending redeem this book in my opinion as they are extraordinarily well written.

I have found the environmental messages contained in the plots of the last few books in the series to be a little too much to the fore for my taste. I have continued to read because I enjoy reading about Venice and I find the development of the series characters to be well done. I think Brunetti's family life is well drawn and I especially like his wife Paola with her fiercely held principles, her academic career and her attention to domestic details.

I would recommend this excellent series to anyone who likes their crime novels with added depth and a background which the reader can almost taste, hear, see and smell.
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More 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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