Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

First Sentence: It was a peaceful night at the Brunetti home, and dinner progressed in harmony

Comm. Guido Brunetti is asked by his boss to look into a minor violation possibly being committed by his future daughter-in-law. But it is Brunetti’s wife’s request that has more significance. The handicapped man at their dry cleaner has died of an apparent suicide and she feels it’s sad that no one knew anything about him. As Brunetti begins to investigate, he finds the man has no recorded history of being alive and the mother refuses to speak to the police but claims his papers were stolen. Who really was this man, and who might have wanted him dead.

Leon has a way of describing things so you clearly see them and so you feel the emotions of the characters. It’s lovely when an author doesn’t assume the reader has been following the series from the beginning. Leon starts off with an excellent introduction to Brunetti and his family.

The characters are fully developed and what truly bring the books to life. How refreshing to have a protagonist who works well with his colleagues and empathetic to those around him. He understands the idiosyncrasies of Italian law and politics…"Upstairs, Brunetti opened the online pages of Il Fatto Quotidiano, a newspaper which often delighted him by its manifest distrust of every political party, every politician, and every religious leader.", yet does his best to do his job, often with the help of Signorina Elettra, "...a buccaneer utterly without respect for rules or regulations." He also has a close, loving and intelligent family who love to eat good food, the descriptions of which are mouth-watering.

Leon not only writes dialogue with subtle humor, but she asks philosophical questions that make you think. She is an intelligent writer who uses thoughts well…”Here he was again, assuming that what he thought was what other people must surely think; that his judgments must have universal validity.” She does, occasionally, send the reader searching out a dictionary. Her simple observations often catch you off guard…"Poor people had grandparents; the rich had ancestors." Her observation on how children learn is fascinating.

“The Golden Egg” is a police procedural, but it is also a commentary on society and people. Although it is not a crime story in the usual sense, it is a crime of inhumanity, cruelty and ignorance. The story is fascinating and completely involving with an excellent revelation.

THE GOLDEN EGG (Pol Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-Venice-Contemp) - Ex
Leon, Donna - 22nd in series
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013

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