Friday Favourites: Earthly Remains #Donna Leon

Earthly remains“Granted leave from the Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti decides to finally take a well-earned break and visit Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the Venetian laguna.

The recuperative satay goes according to play until Davide Casati, the mysterious caretaker of the villa Brunetti has been staying in, goes missing following a sudden storm. Nobody can find him….

Convinced that this was no accident, Brunetti feels compelled to set aside his holiday and discover what happened to the man who had recently become his friend.”

Donna Leon is one of my favourite crime writers. If indeed she can be categorised as such. In my opinion her books are literary novels. There is always a crime, but that is secondary to the depiction of character, the themes of the book and her portrayal of Venice. We see the city in all its moods, whether at the height of summer, when it is thronged by tourists, as in “Earthly remains”, or in winter when aqua alta means that the inhabitants have to make their way over duckboards to avoid being swamped by the rising water.

Because the books are written from Brunetti’s point of view, you can see and smell and hear the city, its food and the people who live there.

Brunetti is not your usual angst ridden detective with a dysfunctional private life. He is a man who enjoys living and has a good relationship with his wife Paola and his teenage children. Family life is not always smooth, but Brunetti knows how important his family is to him and he to them.

You also get a keen sense of the hierarchy of the city, Paola comes from an aristocratic family while Brunetti is solidly working class, and of the corruption of Italian politics, both local and national.

Increasingly too Donna Leon has dealt with environmental issues, such as the polluting of the laguna and rising of sea levels that threaten the very existence of her beloved city.

If you don’t know her books, then I cannot recommend them strongly enough. Go buy, read and enjoy.

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