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Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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Praise for Earthly Remains:
A New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times Top Ten Crime Novel of 2017
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
National Post Best Books of the Year
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Mystery)
“When she’s writing about her beloved Venice, Donna Leon can do no wrong. And Earthly Remains, her new mystery featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, is one of her best . . . [A] socially aware and intensely felt series . . . Leon . . . once again earn[s] the gratitude of her devoted readers.”―Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
“Donna Leon’s novels about Venetian detective Guido Brunetti never disappoint, and Earthly Remains is no exception . . . [A] gentle, elegiac tale.”―Adam Woog, Seattle Times (April’s Best Crime Fiction)
“As deftly as Leon weaves mysterious past and shocking present, this leisurely paced book’s greatest rewards, as is usually the case with her work, are reflective . . . [Brunetti] is, through thick and thin, great company―and a pretty good crime solver as well.”―Lloyd Sachs, Chicago Tribune
“You become so wrapped up in these compelling characters, that I think you could go through all 25 [Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries] this summer . . . Each one is better than the last.”―Louise Erdrich, PBS Newshour
“Like the foregoing Guido Brunetti novels, Earthly Remains is a rewarding novel. The descriptions of the Venice laguna and its islands are enticing, the character of Guido is drawn with finer detail, and the tale it tells is of the most serious import.”―Washington Times
“Donna Leon introduced Commissario Guido Brunetti in 1992’s Death at La Fenice, and readers around the globe have been grateful ever since . . . [In] Earthly Remains . . . Leon masterfully weaves several plot threads and takes the reader through the labyrinth of Venetian life that has nothing do with sipping a cappuccino on the Piazza San Marco.”―Bay Area Reporter
“Reading Leon is like sitting down with old friends for the most satisfying of dinners, replete of course with well-chosen wines . . . Leon is a wonderful writer, the sentences as beautifully crafted as the puparin Casati’s father had long ago built. You feel the sodden heat of a Venetian summer, the crowds marching like ants across the Rialto Bridge, the sting of Guido’s sunburn and his rage at the corruption that ruins life for everybody. The Italians don’t know what they’re missing.”―Arts Desk
“Leon knows her world intimately, yet never overloads the reader with research. She shows only the tip of her iceberg, confident in the richness that lurks underneath. The cast is small but memorable. The square miles she covers are few but exploding with life―at least where humans have yet to quash it.”―Howard Shrier, National Post
“Leon’s multifaceted portrait of a man overburdened with human tragedy emerges forcefully here, as the lagoon itself, beautiful on the surface but containing the seeds of its own destruction, stands as a gripping metaphor for the bad choices and intractable dilemmas that infect us all . . . Leon[’s] . . . novels, with their unparalleled evocation of landscape and sensitivity to character, have attracted an audience that encompasses fiction readers of all kinds.”―Booklist (starred review)
“A vacation for your own soul.”―Kirkus Reviews
“Showcasing the stark contrast between Venice’s organic beauty and the decay that centuries of neglect and overindulgence have laid upon it, Earthly Remains delicately captures the tension that modern Italians face . . . Mystery readers who enjoy a little philosophical introspection are sure to love this latest entry in a delightful series perfect for fans of Henning Mankell or Louise Penny.”―Shelf Awareness
“Bestseller Leon’s enticing 26th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery . . . Along the way to the poignant ending, Brunetti develops insights into nature and humankind’s failure to protect it, as well as the nature of guilt and its role in a man’s life.”―Publishers Weekly
“The 26th entry in Leon’s outstanding ‘Commissario Guido Brunetti’ series is one of her best . . . Fans of Leon’s early novels will find much to enjoy in the depictions of Venice and of the loving relationship between Brunetti and his family.”―Library Journal
“Step into the gondola and glide along the romantic Venetian canals . . . Another extraordinary adventure with Commissario Brunetti.”―AudioFile
“Earthly Remains, the 26th installment of this quietly beloved series, is the best of a wonderful lot . . . Leon’s character development and scene-setting are so strong and interesting that the story just moves right along without a bump or hitch . . . There are few reading joys that equal cracking the binding of a new Leon novel and experiencing another meeting with Brunetti . . . If you have not experienced this world, so exotic and yet so familiar, you can pick up literally any volume in the series and begin a comfortable entry into Brunetti’s Venice. Earthly Remains, however, would be a superlative place to start.”―BookReporter.com
“[Leon] delivers a twist on the mystery formula. Another great read, filled with the atmospheric delights of the region.”―Brenda Repland, Eyes on World Cultures
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In "Earthly Remains", Brunetti is on a short sabbatical from the suffocating venality and other criminal behavior that he witnesses every day on the job. He retreats to an island in the Venetian lagoon north of the city, and finds instant peace and comfort in the rural isolation, physical exercise (cycling and rowing) and bonding with an old family friend, Davide Casati, who turns out to be the caretaker of the villa where Brunetti is in residence for two weeks.
A big, and fully enjoyable chunk of this novel, is focused on Brunetti's relationship with Casati and their time spent on the waters of the lagoon, observing wild life and the geographic marvels of the place. When Casati goes missing one morning, the story takes a turn toward the dark, and the rest of the novel is an investigation of the disappearance and eventually the reasons for Casati's victimization.
The author's concerns about the pernicious elements eating away at Venice and its environment are eloquently stated (and not new) and her frustration (voiced through Brunetti) with the avariciousness and lack of self-restraint by Italian industry and the very slow grinding of the gears of the Italian justice system are spelled out in detail in "Earthly Remains". This will offend some readers whose faith in unrestrained capitalism is still intact. A visit to Meghara, the noxious industrial suburb of Venice, would certainly clarify what author Leon is referring to for anyone.
This is one of Leon's best Brunetti books, in my opinion. It's more personal and starkly heartfelt by an observer who is watching the gradual destruction of the city and region that she loves
In "Earthly Remains," we find our inimitable Brunetti embroiled in a touchy, personal situation. During the interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he quickly comes to regret. A break is what is suggested—and he feels he needs. Taking leave, he settles in at a villa owned by a wealthy relative and he proceeds to assume that “rest and relaxation” is exactly what he needs.
Alas, there’s no rest for the wicked, the weary, or the just and fair. His days of leisure are broken when the caretaker of the villa, with whom he has soundly bonded, goes missing after a terrific storm. Nobody has seen him or knows anything about the disappearance. Investigation is in his blood, so Brunetti lays aside the leisure bit and starts to investigate, as he and the caretaker had recently become friends.
And with his usual precision, logic, and intellect, Brunetti begins to put together the entire picture—which, of course, includes the requisite death, manipulations, and secrets, motives for yet another homicide. How the author is able to maintain this quality, this originality, and this pace is amazing, but she does, as she expertly creates characters and scenarios that are not only realistic, but believable. As usual, her addressing serious environmental issues for her beloved Venice is included, and, like Cassandra outside the gates of Troy, she continues to sound the alarm. And we hope she never stops.
Descriptions such as "Brunetti awoke in Paradise. Birds chirped, the sun prised with rosy fingers at his eyelids . . ." or "The air was close and humid and it seemed hotter than outside, but at least the roof had put an end to the suns flagellations." and "As they walked away from the dock, the sun did its best to pound them into the ground . . ." are some of the poetic descriptions of Brunetti coping with the unrelenting heat of summer in Venice. Though the story does not involve climate change, I wonder if some of the descriptions of the extraordinary heat are not related to it. The plot revolves around the dumping in the laguna of metal barrels of deadly chemicals used in manufacturing on the island of Marghere which are still being cleaned up even as we read about them in this novel. One can feel the author's frustration with the Italian government and its slow and corruption-laden addressing of this problem. The bees are dying and Brunetti's friend knows why. I'll leave it here for the reader to discover.
An excellent book by a gifted author. Brava Ms. Leon!
the body even enters the picture, we are gliding through the lagoon with Brunetti, in a state that Leon induces between exquisite timelessness
and intense self-consciousness. We don't even need the body -- except we do, because it is there that Leon's (Brunetti's) compassion and
the world's ambiguities meet, again at an even higher level than before. Brava -- what an accomplishment.