Synopses & Reviews
When the body of man is found in a canal, damaged by the tides, carrying no wallet, and wearing only one shoe, Brunetti has little to work with. No local has filed a missing-person report, and no hotel guests have disappeared. Where was the crime scene? And how can Brunetti identify the man when he cant show pictures of his face? The autopsy shows a way forward: it turns out the man was suffering from a rare, disfiguring disease. With Inspector Vianello, Brunetti canvasses shoe stores, and winds up on the mainland in Mestre, outside of his usual sphere. From a shopkeeper, they learn that the man had a kindly way with animals.
At the same time, animal rights and meat consumption are quickly becoming preoccupying issues at the Venice Questura, and in Brunettis home, where conversation at family meals offer a window into the joys and conflicts of Italian life. Perhaps with the help of Signorina Elettra, Brunetti and Vianello can identify the man and understand why someone wanted him dead. As subtle and engrossing as ever, Leons Beastly Things is immensely enjoyable, intriguing, and ultimately moving.
"In bestseller Leon's complex, contemplative 21st Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2011's Drawing Conclusions), the Venetian police inspector must identify a man found stabbed to death and floating in a canal. Unusually, the victim suffered from a rare disease that disfigures the body and is linked to alcoholism, though the pathologist determines he wasn't a drinker. Brunetti soon discovers that the man was a veterinarian, Andrea Nava, who also worked part-time at a slaughterhouse inspecting the health of the animals brought in by the local farmers. Despite his recent separation from his wife after a tryst with a co-worker, Nava appears to have been a compassionate human being. But when Brunetti visits the slaughterhouse and begins to examine how it operates, the inspector comes to some unsettling conclusions about the murdered man, the motive, and his own life. Leon deftly blends police procedural with philosophy and existential speculation. Her intimate descriptions of Venice, where she has lived for 30 years, lend color." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
As if Brunetti werent already steaming about the mindless, atavistic greed motivating everything from the shabby practices of the banking industry to the irresponsible dredging of the Grand Canal, Leon hits him with a crime that really tries his soul
So he takes his pleasures where he canat home with his family, in his favorite coffee bars and on long walks around Venice but after this case, the city he loves will never be quite the same for him.”Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
Followers of the series and lovers of Venice will appreciate Leons fascinating details of life in this unique city.
This is a strong series entry.”Dan Forrest, Library Journal
Through the 21 novels in her much-loved Guido Brunetti series, Leon has tackled various social issues, from human trafficking through immigration policy and sexual abuse, always with great sensitivity toward not only the criminal aspects of the issue but also the more ambiguous toll that societal malfunction takes on individual lives. So it is again in this wrenching tale of the murder of a quiet veterinarian, the victim of a tragedy of almost classical dimensions.
A seemingly straightforward mystery written with such delicacy and emotional force that we cant help but be reminded of Greek tragedy.” Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)
"It is a pleasure for a reader to settle in to one of Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, once again to have one of those glorious Italian lunches with his wife, Paola, and their children, Raffi and Chiara, and to learn, as we do in Beastly Things, which part of the seamy underside of Venetian life Brunetti will now uncover. ...This time, a body is found in one of the canals. It is eventually identified as a local veterinarian, Dottore Nava, well-loved by his patients and their owners. ... The way Brunetti figures out what happened and who killed Nava is first-rate Donna Leon plotting."Valerie Ryan, Shelf Awareness
Beastly Things, Donna Leons 21st Commissario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice, doesnt disappoint. All her trademark strengths shine in this swiftly paced, sophisticated tale of greed versus ethics.”Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times
[A] fine atmospheric novel
Twenty-one books on, she has lost none of her delightful skill and wit.”Mark Sanderson, Evening Mail (UK)
"The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti Venetian police procedural is a super whodunit... Brunetti and Vianello are marvelous as they piece together clues mostly using old fashion shoe leather but also ably supported by the IT gurus Signorina Elettra and Pucetti." -The Midwest Book Review
"Brunetti is, as always, a canny commentator on Italian culture... However, it is in the poignant closing scene... where Leon's singular talents truly shine." -Book Page
"What a pleasure it is to greet Guido Brunetti... a man comfortable in his own skin, complete with quirks, foibles, and all... But, as in many of Leon's stories, the procedural is a stepping stone to bigger problems undermining the magic of Venice: venality and greed, flourishing as ever." -Christian Science Monitor
Like Dorothy Sayerss Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1930s, Guido Brunetti has accumulated depth and subtlety book by book. In Beastly Things he learns, the hard way, unpleasant facts about the meat industry that have long since made vegetarians of his daughter and Inspector Vianello. Leon has never written a more powerful sequence than the chapter in Beastly Things where Brunetti and Vianello visit a busy slaughterhouse.
Set, as always, against the living background of Venice itself, and the family background that keeps Brunettis moral compass straight while letting him enjoy good food, wine, and loving support, Beastly Things is a quietly satisfying celebration of the seriess twenty-first birthday. Long may it continue.”Peter Green, The New Republic
Brunettis challenges make for scintillating reading.”Randy Dotinga, The Christian Science Monitor
"One of the most attractive serial detectives of contemporary fiction. ... The unravelling of this intricate plot is very satisfying, yet the real pleasure of this novel lies in its evocation of a city whose shimmering beauty is set against the encroaching predations of the Mafia; a city where proper jobs are so rare that most young adults live at home with their parents, studying or wasting time; a place where your only real safety comes from having, say, four Doges in your ancestry, or a father with such powerful influence that nobody dares cross him."Sue Gaisford, The Independent (UK)
Donna Leons international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has won her legions of passionate fans, reams of critical acclaim, and a place among the top ranks of international crime writers. Brunetti, both a perceptive investigator and a warm-hearted and principled family man, is one of the treasured characters of contemporary mysteries. Through her engaging Commissario, Leon has explored Venice in all its aspects: its history, beauty, architecture, seasons, food and social life, but also the crime and corruption that seethe below the surface of La Serenissima.
When the body of man is found in a canal, damaged by the tides, carrying no wallet, and wearing only one shoe, Brunetti has little to work with. No local has filed a missing-person report, and no hotel guests have disappeared. Where was the crime scene? And how can Brunetti identify the man when he cant show pictures of his face? The autopsy shows a way forward: it turns out the man was suffering from a rare, disfiguring disease: Madelung. It is a disease that usually affects alcoholics (although the autopsy shows in question was not one), predominantly affects Italians (it's less likely he was a tourist) and causes tremendous swelling of the upper body and neck. No one who saw the afflicted man would likely forget him.
With Inspector Vianello, Brunetti canvasses shoe stores, and soon discovers that the man in question was a veterinarian, Dr. Nava. Interviews with the mans estranged wife reveal that Nava had a second job at the Preganziol slaughterhouse on the mainland in Mestre. Also that he was having an affair with a co-worker, who he suspects is the beautiful and possibly ruthless Giulia Borelli.
Brunetti rarely ventures to the mainland, and is taken further out of his comfort zone upon witnessing the animals being slaughtered at Preganziol. But beyond his disgust, he suspects that something not quite right is going on out on the mainland. He interviews the other veterinarian, Meucci, who used to examine the animals to verify that they were fit for slaughter until his failing health forced him to leave. Signorina Elettra, Pattas highly efficient secretary with the skills to access all sorts of databases, digs up the fact that Meucci's credentials are shady. Perhaps it's enough to pressure him to reveal enough for Brunetti and Vianello to solve the case.
At the same time, animal rights and meat consumption are quickly becoming preoccupying issues at the Venice Questura, and in Brunettis home. Signorina Elettra and Vianello are preaching to Brunetti about the negative impact of meat consumption. And he notes his daughter Chiaras ongoing loose vegetarianism.
Paola, Brunetti's wife, comes to him with ethical constraints of a different variety. She vaguely asks about the obligations to report an ongoing crime. He gets the details out of her eventually, of course: a visiting professor at her university is stealing books. With brilliant deviousness, Paolo brings it to an end.
As subtle and engrossing as ever, Leons Beastly Things is immensely enjoyable, intriguing, and ultimately moving.
Praise for Drawing Conclusions
Remarkably, for a long-running series, Leons characters are more interesting now than they were 18 years ago. Even more remarkably, Leons own skills, honed over so many books, have grown and matured, and that makes this most recent novel her best book so far.” Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail
Donna Leons 20th Venetian mystery featuring her compassionate police detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti, epitomizes what we treasure most about this series: a feeling for the life of a sublimely beautiful city and a sensitivity to the forces that are reshaping it.” Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
The compelling characters and complex plot in Leon's Drawing Conclusions place it among her best. The atmosphere of the city, along with Leon's sharp insights and powerful narrative, validate her often-recognized status as a master of literary crime fiction.”Merle Minda, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
By now, with the arrival of Donna Leons 20th Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery, the Venetian police commissioner seems almost as much an institution as the citys venerable buildings.” The Wall Street Journal