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The Golden Egg (Guido Brunetti) Paperback – March 11, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 556 customer reviews
Book 22 of 24 in the Commissario Brunetti Series

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“[An] unusually reflective detective story.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Appreciative of feminine charms, the deeply uxorious Brunetti amply displays the keen intelligence and wry humor that has endeared this series to so many.”—Publishers Weekly

“[Readers] will savor the pleasures of dialogue as elliptical in its way as Henry James and a retrospective shock when they finally appreciate the import of the tale’s unobtrusive opening scene and its sly title.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Rating: A."—Deadly Pleasures

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Product Details

  • Series: Guido Brunetti (Book 22)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802122426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802122421
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (556 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sharon Isch TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2013
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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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