May 23, 2013

Book Review: The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

Commissario Guido Brunetti loves his family dearly--especially his fiery, opinionated wife, Paola Falieri. He doesn't love his boss, Vice-Questore Patta, but he can hardly refuse to get involved when Patta asks him to discreetly look into some bribes that the fiancée of the Venetian mayor's son may have paid. Then Brunetti is distracted by a phone call from Paola, informing him that the man who worked at their dry cleaner has died. The man was both deaf and mentally handicapped, and neither Brunetti nor Paola know his name. Both are ashamed of this, and so Brunetti agrees to check it out, with the unofficial help of his team.

The dead man's mother calls him Davide, but as far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed--no birth certificate, never paid taxes, never registered anywhere for anything. How could someone in this day and age live so under the radar? What was really wrong with Davide? Why is his mother being so secretive about his lack of documentation and parentage?

As always, Donna Leon transports the reader to the beautiful, decaying city of Venice. Davide's sad story underscores the complexity of Italian culture and life, as well as the never-ending struggle against dishonesty and corruption Brunetti and his team face. The debates among Brunetti and Paola and their children about the role of government and human nature are fascinating, adding weight to an already twisted mystery. The Golden Egg is not to be missed; an excellent installment in the beloved Brunetti series.

You may remember that I almost gave up on Donna Leon a few years ago, but I'm so glad I didn't! This book in particular was hauntingly sad, but really excellent.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure! Maybe tell her to go back and start earlier in the series though, The The Golden Egg is #22, and that's rather late to jump in.

Have you read Donna Leon? 

I originally wrote this review for Shelf Awareness. The post contains affiliate links.