The Golden Egg-Donna Leon

The Golden Egg
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly, Mar 26 2013, $24.00
ISBN 9780802121011

Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti’s ambitious boss Vice-Questore Patta requests the police inspector look into alleged violations of public vending laws by the partner of the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti understands that it is a request poorly disguising an order, and his inquiry has nothing to do with the law and all to do with reputations of political animals. He knows that the local bureaucracy works on bribery and blood ties so he turns to his subordinate Pucetti whose uncle and cousin has the information Patta and the mayor wants.

At home, Brunetti’s caring wife Paola requests her husband the police inspector look into the sleeping pill overdose death of simple minded and deaf Davide Cavanella. Brunetti understands that it is a request made from the heart. He questions Davide’s mother, but she refuses to answer him. His search into the deceased’s background proves confusing as the government does not recognize that a Davide Cavanella ever existed; as there is no birth certificate, passport or any official document in that name. Even more stunning no medical records exist either in spite of the man’s disabilities.

The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti police procedural (see Beastly Things) contains two insightful investigations that enable the reader to see deep into the soul of Venice; as corruption and nepotism are just below the surface of the historical architecture, restaurants and canals. The Patta inquiry contrasts with that of Cavanella as even the motives of the respective requesters differ. Series fans will relish this strong Italian mystery while wondering who Davide was.

Harriet Klausner

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