Just occasionally one reads or listens to a book and it stays with you for days. One such book that I listened to and finished at the beginning of the week is Earthly Remains by Donna Leon.
I have read several of Ms Leon’s books set in and around Venice. What’s not to like?. She obviously loves this city, its architecture, its history and is concerned about its present-day problems. We learn of the beauty and the despair of the old city, through Brunetti’s eyes, admirably described by Ms Leon.
Her protagonist is Commissario Guido Brunetti. I feel I know him and his team of detectives: I know his wife and two children. But this book is a different read. Brunetti is not trying to solve a murder but instead is spending a sabbatical in a villa on a property owned by a member of his wife’s wealthy family. Here he spends his days rowing on the Laguna with the property’s caretaker, Casati, and his evenings reading Pliny. Such a very different pace and place to his usual life in Venice, and his work at the Questura. Ms Leon is at her best here in describing the peace and tranquillity of the area and the problems of the earth discussed while rowing on the Laguna. Much of this novel focuses on Brunetti’s relationship with Casati who is seeking the reason why his bee colonies are dying.
Then one morning, following a storm, Casati is found to be missing. And so Brunetti gets involved in searching for his friend and then seeking the reason for his death. We find that an old crime involving deadly chemicals having been dumped into the Laguna has been covered up by payments made to victims. And the dumping is still going on. I leave the joy of the ending for the reader to discover for him/herself
Days after finishing the book I’m still drawn to the descriptions of the place in which the Commissario finds himself. The beauty and the peace all the while hiding a deadly crime.
I recommend this book with the proviso that if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series you will not know Brunetti as I do. But nevertheless, I gave the book 5 stars.