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The Golden Egg (Commissario Brunetti Book 22) [Kindle Edition]

Donna Leon
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (455 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In The Golden Egg, as the first leaves of autumn begin to fall, Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor shop-keeping violation committed by the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti has no interest in helping his boss amass political favors, but he has little choice but to comply. Then Brunetti’s wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaner has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him.

Brunetti begins to investigate the death and is surprised when he finds nothing on the man: no birth certificate, no passport, no driver’s license, no credit cards. As far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed. Stranger still, the dead man’s mother refuses to speak to the police, and assures Brunetti that her son’s identification papers were stolen in a burglary. As secrets unravel, Brunetti suspects that the Lembos, an aristocratic family, might be somehow connected to the death. But why would anyone want this sweet, simple-minded man dead?

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It isn’t so much crime itself that intrigues Venetian police commissario Guido Brunetti as it is the hidden stories behind the crime, or lurking on its edges. So it is again in this twenty-second Brunetti novel. At the urging of his wife, Paola, Brunetti investigates the death of a mentally handicapped man who worked at the family’s dry cleaners. Did he really die of a sleeping-pill overdose? And why are there no official records indicating that the victim even existed? As Brunetti digs into the matter, he finds himself less bothered by the circumstances of the man’s death than by the fact “that he managed to live for 40 years without leaving any bureaucratic traces.” Others would see only a mildly curious anomaly in the man’s lack of a human footprint across a lifetime; Brunetti sees “mystery and sadness,” and it prompts him to keep digging. What he finds is a saga of appalling human cruelty, but one that eludes the penal code. In stark contrast to the tyranny of silence that shrouded the forgotten man’s life is the outpouring of language and love that encircles the Brunetti family dinner table. In the end, this novel is a celebration of the humanizing power of words. “At one point,” Leon says, describing the dinnertime conversation, “Paola expressed a wish and used the subjunctive, and Brunetti felt himself close to tears at the beauty and intellectual complexity of it.” Name another crime novel that ends like that. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Leon’s success—well more than one million copies in print in North America; a devoted library following—is testament to the heartening fact that character counts in crime fiction. --Bill Ott


"The familiar characters and Venetian location are described with remarkable freshness and, as always, the edifying result is both amusing and thought-provoking" Sunday Telegraph "Leon's impeccably plotted, utterly involving Italian-set novels (featuring the food-loving Commissario Brunetti) have rarely been less than excellent. So it proves with the latest, The Golden Egg. Involved in routine enquiries into a possible bribery case, Brunetti hears from his wife Paola of the death of an educationally-challenged man who worked at the Brunetti's dry cleaners ... The Golden Egg is Donna Leon on top form." The Good Book Guide "If there's a writer for whom the law of diminishing returns has been revoked, it's Donna Leon. The doyenne of Italian crime fiction, whose stamina in returning time and again to her Venetian beat is matched only by her curiosity, she has proved herself, in the space of 22 titles, not only an able detective novelist, but the author of something more substantial ... It is one of the joys of Leon's work that she can take readers into the sinister heart of Italy, and yet, in the person of Brunetti and his companions, convince us that not all is lost." Herald "The introspective Brunetti, a man with a healthy sense of the absurd and a sharp eye for the fading grandeur of the city's architecture, makes for good company as he negotiates the perilous labyrinth of Venetian police office politics. Deceptively languid in its pace and a masterclass in mood, The Golden Egg . is a meticulously crafted example of how even the most apparently innocuous of crimes can reveal a trove of history." Irish Times "Donna Leon is better than ever.Superb." WI Life

Product Details

  • File Size: 1694 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (April 2, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B3M46W2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,844 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Egg -- a Scrambled Verdict March 26, 2013
On finishing The Golden Egg, I mentally congratulated Donna Leon on a fine return to solid mystery writing. After a few less-than-satisfying Brunetti novels over the past several years, I was starting to wonder if her best days were past. Then the stand alone, non-Brunetti novel The Jewels of Paradise, appeared last year, and while it was great to see an established writer taking a risk, the story itself was underwhelming.

The Golden Egg kept me guessing throughout, didn't rely (entirely) on Signorina Elettra's miraculous computer hacking skills, and ended with a shocking discovery. As usual with Donna Leon, there is not necessarily a crime or even a murder, although there is a mysterious death right off the bat. Whether it was murder is Brunetti's puzzle to solve, and apparently there is nothing else requiring his attention that week, so he investigates what everyone else assumes is an accidental death.

In traditional police procedural fashion, Brunetti interviews, detects, and finds layers of deception and decades of greed. Those who enjoy catching up with Brunetti's family will enjoy the mealtime discussions with Paola and the kids. After a week of detecting, Brunetti has solved a mystery, but other questions remain.

A few days after finishing The Golden Egg, I found myself wondering if there weren't some holes in the story. The shocking discovery -- was that even a possibility? Why doesn't Elettra quit doing the cops' work for them and get a lucrative job in computer security?

So -- good story for a weekend, but don't think about it too much.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GOLDEN EGG - well done! March 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are few pleasures in life more satisfying than a well-written mystery. An added pleasure is if the setting is an exotic and intriguing place you would like to visit. When you read, your mind gets to travel. This series takes you to Venice. The book opens with Detective Brunetti and his family playing a word game over dinner at their Venetian home. Words, and the power of them, is a theme Brunetti muses upon throughout this story.

A young deaf and dumb man, who worked at the dry cleaners which Brunetti and his wife frequent, is found dead of apparent suicide. The Brunettis wonder: what would compel a young disabled person to kill himself? Had something changed in his life? Or is something more sinister at play? Brunetti investigates the incident out of principle and sympathy, to honor the young man's life.

While the plots in this series delight, you may read as much for the aesthetics of the books. The fine writing, savory Italian food, descriptions of Venetian scenery and even the atmosphere of thought and attitudes pervading Venice by its citizens are as enticing as the story. As the author has lived in Venice for the past 30 years, there is real insight. It's an insider's view of someone who lives in Venice, reads the local newspaper, and talks to the citizens daily. The pace in this story has the leisurely pace of an Italian meal. Brunetti travels throughout Venice, and you travel with him. You see the beauty and sublimity of Venice through his eyes.

Mystery readers enjoy this series like a fine wine, or tasty Italian tiramisu. Warning: Brunetti and his family seem to have dessert after every dinner - you may want to buy an Italian pastry to enjoy along with this book so you won't feel deprived. This newest entree by Leon should please her readers as they once again join Detective Brunetti in investigating a mystery in his enigmatic and beguiling Venezia.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For one thing, this 22nd Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery is not a Questura case. It's a story that evolves from Paola Falier Brunetti's concern and curiosity about the death of the boy from the Brunetti family's dry cleaners whom they'd seen there for years, standing in the back room, folding things and always looking so sad. Most customers knew him as "The boy who didn't speak" and assumed he was a relative of the proprietors, and that he was not only deaf but probably also mute. No one seemed to know his name. At Paola's urging, Brunetti starts looking into what had happened and soon finds that the dead boy/man did have a name and a cold and taciturn mother he lived with. Was his death accidental or intentional? And if intentional, was it suicide or murder? No way to tell.

Brunetti also finds that nowhere in the public records is there any evidence this boy/man had ever existed. That conundrum piques the interest of some of Brunetti's Questura colleagues. Just as this story is quite a bit different from what we're used to, so too are the supporting roles. Brunetti's sidekick, Vianello, gets involved for awhile, then drops out of the picture. Everyone's favorite computer hacker, Elettra, has relatively little to do here, as does Patta, who thinks Brunetti's still out investigating a case he's already solved. Meanwhile, we get to spend quite a lot of time getting to know Foa and Pucetti a lot better. Then, about halfway through, comes a nice surprise when Commissaria Claudia Griffoni, the only female detective at the Questura, who was introduced five or six books ago and hasn't been seen since, takes over the sidekick role usually played by Vianello.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the good are evil and the evil are good
The twists and turns of this story are fascinating. It takes a village to raise a child, and obviously one also to destroy it. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Susan
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Not the best of this series.
Published 8 days ago by Michael Herzog
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 27 days ago by RW.
4.0 out of 5 stars better by far than her recent efforts
I was a huge fan of the first few Brunetti books. Somewhere around the middle of the series, they became feeble in plot and even character. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Buff Crone
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Thank you
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer A. Clark
3.0 out of 5 stars takes too long to really get started [no spoilers]
I suspect that fans of Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti novels are as fixed in their admiration for anything that Ms Leon writes as fans of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books are... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stanley Crowe
3.0 out of 5 stars Venice Life.... uncovering a mystery
Well written mystery. Almost poetic but it was a little slow and boring to me. A very good introduction to life in Venice and the customs there. I felt like I was living there.
Published 1 month ago by Kalan
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, but some of her other books were ...
I enjoyed it,but some of her other books were better.
Published 1 month ago by Pat Tenquist
5.0 out of 5 stars one of most touching of Leon's oeuvre
The book is gripping in different ways. The immense secrecy of neighbors; the sustained interest of Brunetti; and the less than expected outcome
Published 1 month ago by clairemuriel
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best!
A slow moving story with a solid punch and social message as with all of Donna Leon's books. Not her best!
Published 2 months ago by lindon wing
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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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