- 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beastly Things: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery (Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries) Hardcover – April 3, 2012
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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 has lived in Venice for over twenty-five years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Her previous novels featuring Commissario Brunetti have all been highly acclaimed. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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"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. I really like this new cutting down of Brunetti's workload to a single case per novel, as it provides Leon with more room to get into our hero's ruminations about this and that, conversations with his wife Paola and partner Vianello and keenly observant descriptive passages about life in Venice. We also get a brief glimpse this time of a more human side of Patta as a father. And the two detectives admit to wondering whether all these "friends" Elettra counts on for inside information may really be pseudonyms for herself. But do they really want to know?
And, oh yes, Brunetti at last gets a computer and, as rarely happens after a Questura investigation, someone actually gets arrested.
Other things you might want to know:
1. * While their jobs require that Brunetti and Vianello spend all of chapter 19 witnessing what goes on in a slaughterhouse and emerging from that experience very shaken up, there is no good reason readers need to join them there. Unless you want to. It's not easy reading and nothing key to solving the crime will occur there.
2. Photos of people with Madelung's disease can be found via Google.
3. Later, at that Washington appearance mentioned above, I asked Ms. Leon whether she was ever going to bring back Commissaria Claudia Griffoni, the only female detective at the Questura, who'd been introduced in "About Face" and was featured again in the next book after that. She said Griffoni would be back in the next one (ie this one). Unfortunately, that turns out to be something of a stretch: When Patta hands Brunetti the Madelung man case, he tells him to partner on it with Griffoni; Brunetti reminds him that Griffoni's in Rome taking a course in domestic violence, so Patta tells him to partner with Vianello instead. And that's all that readers will hear of Griffoni in "Beastly Things." (Addenda: Maybe Ms Leon's idea of "next" and mine differ, as Griffoni does show up in a sidekick role in the next two in the series after this, "The Golden Egg" and "By its Cover.")
4. Here's a chronological Brunetti book list, as of March 2014: "Death at La Fenice," "Death in a Strange Country" "Dressed for Death," "Death and Judgment," "Acqua Alta," "Quietly in Their Sleep," "A Noble Radiance, " "Fatal Remedies," "Friends in High Places," "A Sea of Troubles," "Willful Behavior," "Uniform Justice," "Doctored Evidence," "Blood from a Stone," "Through a Glass, Darkly" "Suffer the Little Children," "The Girl of His Dreams," "About Face," "A Question of Belief," "Drawing Conclusions," "Beastly Things," "The Golden Egg" and "By Its Cover." (Please note: Should you ever come across "The Anonymous Venetian," "A Venetian Reckoning" or "The Death of Faith" know that these are not new Leons; they're just the British titles of "Dressed for Death," "Death and Judgment" and "Quietly in Their Sleep.")
Note: The chronological list of Brunetti books inside the front cover of the hardback is missing the fifth book in the series, "Acqua Alta." Obviously a typo, as I checked and find it's still available in paperback on Amazon.
Sometimes, the efforts of Brunetti, Vianello and Signorina Electtra (she of the stunning couture) do not result in a satisfying result, but in this book, the bad people are caught (and presumably punished, although in Italy, one never knows...) and Brunetti is at peace with the compromises that entails. I love this series, but found this book to be especially enjoyable.
Beastly Things is one of the bloodiest Brunetti books, but the blood belongs to slaughterhouse animals, not people. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is squeamish about the way animals are mistreated for our rating pleasure. It's an interesting juxtaposition of motifs since part of the charm of series is the sensuous pleasure our detective takes in food and all things beautiful.
Once more, the actual crime is less important than the psychological dissection of the characters, and those who enjoy nail-biting action will probably not enjoy Brunetti's slower, more intellectual approach. But for fans of Ms Leon's charming, exquisitely Venetian version of the thinker's mystery, Beastly Things will not disappoint.