Donna Leon – Earthly Remains

Donna Leon – Earthly Remains

While interrogating a suspect, one of Commissario Brunetti’s colleagues is on the verge of attacking the interviewee. Brunetti has to interfere and fakes a heart attack. He finds himself in hospital before he can explain what has happened. Albeit the doctor does not find any sign of heart attack, she nevertheless advocates for some time off for the commissario to recover from work. One of Paola’s aunts happens to possess a villa in Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest island in the laguna and so Brunetti sets out for some holidays without his family. He spends his days with the housekeeper Davide Casati with whom he likes to row through the laguna. Yet, after a stormy night, Casati does not return and to Brunetti’s sorrow, they find the elderly man drowned. Even though everything points at an accident, Brunetti knows that Casati has been preoccupied and wanted to tell him something he had been researching for months. So Brunetti starts to ask questions that were not meant to be asked.

Donna Leon’s 26th novel in the Brunetti series brings us again into Venice laguna with sympathetic Commissario Brunetti. What I like about these crime novels is the fact that they put the human being into the focus. We do not have the brutal, lurid murder cases, but everyday men and women who act in accordance with their beliefs and convictions and sometimes commit crimes without being thoroughly evil.

This novel is especially slow in pace and thus mirrors quite well the hot Italian summers. After a third of it, still everybody is alive and kicking and I already started to wonder if it could do without any murder at all. Well then of course we have a dead and some suspicion which actually leads to a case. Starting from only small points, the story extends in concentric circles linking the hints and in this way forming a complete picture of a convincing and logic series of events. The characters’ motivation of realistic and comprehensible. Yet, at the very end, Brunetti could surprise me a lot – even though his acted in quite an unexpected way, this was consistent with his personality.

All in all, the perfect crime novel for a hot afternoon.