S obsession with water and tourism is weakening her storylines Leon s formerly masterful plotting is becoming transparent to the point that view spoilerwhen very early in the story she mentions a certain exclusive brand of watch worn by a person with a particular profession I now exactly who the villain is and also now his motivation hide spoiler First Sentence A man and a woman deep in conversation approached the steps of Pone dei Lustraferi both looking hot and uncomfortable on this late July afternoonBenedetta Toso a dying hospice patient who asks to speak with the police claims her husband Vittorio Fadalto was murdered over bad money Commissario Brunetti and his colleague Claudia Griffoni promise to investigate the matter but was it murder or an accident Suspicions mount as they learn about Vittorio s job collecting samples of water to be tested for contamination Piecing together the tangled threads Brunetti comes to realize the perilous meaning in the woman s accusation and the threat it reveals to the health of the entire regionWith an excellent beginning one learns that being a Neapolitan in Venice is a far greater handicap than being a woman and that one may not want to visit Venice during the summer Leon s voice is always a pleasure When talking about the heat she conveys the sense of it without referencing it directly Brunetti realized only then how hot he was He tried to lift his right leg but it was glued to the chair by sweat It is these touches that bring Venice to life by allowing us to see the city as those who live there doThere is a second plot thread of two Romany pickpockets It is interesting to learn the differences between how crimes are handled in Italy versus the United States The secondary plot does raise interesting pointsLeon s descriptions from the route to an address Brunetti takes that only a resident would now to his description of a room badly decorated to food are a delight and bring the city to life Even a plate of sandwiches at a bar sound good From the sides of the sandwiches spilled ham egg tomato tuna salad radicchio rucola shrimp artichokes asparagus and olives Leon is wonderful at injecting verbal exchanges to make one chuckle When called into his boss s office Signorina Elettra remarks If you aren t out in fifteen minutes I ll call the police However she is also very good at making one pause and consider as with Bruno s conversation with a nurse But if you work with death you have to become spiritual or you can t do it any when they get close to the end you can sense their spirit or you sense that it s there They do too And it helps them And us She nows how to touch one s emotions Griffoniraised a hand and threw open her palm as if to release the dead woman s spirit into the air The three of them remained silent for enough time to allow that spirit to escape the room There is something wonderful about a policeman who reads Lysistrata for pleasure and describes Agamemnon as a windbag commander The relationship between Brunetti and his wife Paoli adds normality It is one of a couple who has been married a long time and still loves one another An interesting characteristic of Leon is that when her characters are in a professional setting she references them by their surnames yet when in a personal setting or amongst one another as friends she uses their first namesLeon is incredibly good at building a story She takes one along with her through the steps with an amazing subtlety to the cluesTrace Elements is a police procedural without car chases or gunplay but with a somewhat political theme It is a very contemporary mystery with a contemporary crime It reflects on the degradation of true justice in our time and on compromise For some the ending may not seem satisfactory but upon reflection there is some small justice amidst justice that cannot be achievedTRACE ELEMENTS PolProc Comm Guido Brunetti Venice Contemp VG Leon Donna 29th in series Atlantic Monthly Mar 2020 A uandary for BrunettiTwo seemingly simple cases that had no connection A couple of Roma girls have pick pocketed the wife of a powerful person who wants them out of Venice in case further enuiries open up something they don t want exposed A dying woman who has something to confess to the policeAs investigations unfold both cases are a minefield of complexities for Commissari Guido Brunetti and Claudia Griffoni As always they are ably assisted by the highly efficient Signorina Elettra whose computer skills allow them into places that they normally couldn t accessOne case involves a uestion of the health of the planet Both cases speak to what the powerful are able to get away with Brunetti is faced with conflicting choicesAs Brunetti summarizes his reflections and the uestions the situation demands we are reminded of his love of mythologies of the pastHis thoughts turned to the Eumenides and the characters desperate search for an understanding of justice based on something other than vengeanceBrunetti was both accuser and accused He had to decide which crime to punish which to ignore and choose the greater criminal or the better oddsAs always a complex yet rewarding read Leon s underlying themes of the environment politics graft and corruption bubble away rising to the surface throughout It took me sometime to understand the title I was as confused as Brunetti until we both weren tA Grove Atlantic ARC via NetGalley 3Trace Elements is the 29th book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series Brunetti investigates crimes in his beloved city of Venice Sometimes these offenses are particular to this beautiful city and sometimes they are universal but they always contain the flavor of Venice Where else can you take a boat to the airport They are all well written with sharp dialogue and references to Ventian landmarks The crime in Trace Elements is one that could be committed anywhere Without giving spoilers the greed cover up and lack of concern for humanity were frightening but certainly not unheard of While Brunetti continued to be irresistibly charming with his een intelligence love of books and food and jabs at Italian politics this was not the best in the series I have read many in the Brunetti mystery series and highly recommend starting at the beginning Especially if Italy has an appeal this series will definitely be satisfyin. N time Brunetti comes to realize the perilous meaning in the woman’s accusation and the threat it reveals to the health of the entire region But justice in this case proves to be ambiguous as Brunetti is reminded it can be when seeking solace he reads Aeschylus’s classic play The EumenidesAs she has done so often through her memorable characters and storytelling skill Donna Leon once again engages our sensibilities as to the differences between guilt and responsibili.
G so in sync with Brunetti and Leon in their concerns In her 29th book featuring Guido Brunetti Commissario of police in Venice Donna Leon has once again provided a storyline in which for the most part it s not actually certain that a crime has been committed Brunetti and his colleague Claudio Griffoni are asked to attend the hospice bedside of a 38 year old woman Benedetta Toso who is suffering from cancer Not only is she certain to die soon but her husband Vittorio was just recently Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque : St Seiya, tome 28 killed when his motorcycle went off the road and he drowned in a ditch Benedetta has two daughters who are being cared for by her sister It s clear that the dying woman is severely distressed and trying to get a message across to them but she s barely able to talk and they can only really pick up a few sentences It seems that Vittorio had recently reuired some bad money and Benedetta believes that this was somehow the cause of his death It s not much to go on but its all they haveOften in this series apart from the case or cases being investigated the focus has been on the people associated with Brunetti his family friends and colleagues and long standing readers like me have become familiar with a small group of characters who regularly pop up In this instalment we become acuainted with Griffoni who is a relatively new character in the life of these books but a person with whom Guido has become professionally close to in the past few years To this point I d found her to be something of an enigma a private person with aeen brain and strong interpersonal skills but somebody who is really all business with little Os pastôres da noite known of her life outside of the police department Here her personality is fleshed out somewhat and we find that she can be charming but she has a uick tempered prickly side too She s able to put Brunetti on edge and few people are able to do thatAs the story develops we learn that Vittorio worked for a company charged with maintaining the integrity of Venice s water supply He was a collector of samples that he delivered to the company s lab for testing There s no clear evidence from the case file that his death was anything but an accident and no witnesses have come forward to add to the littlenowledge the police have regarding the incident But we ve been here before with Brunetti and we now that his intuition clever uestioning and nose for deception will dig up the truth if indeed there is anything to be found It s summer and everyone is suffering from the extreme heat Guido than most He cogitates on the detail and regularly retreats to one of the local bars for a coffee and a glass or two of mineral water escaping both the heat and the crowds In truth I m not altogether satisfied with the way this episode ultimately plays out It s not that I don t give credence to the actions described but that I wonder at the morality of the solution I ll say no and allow readers to draw their own views on this point But that s always a side issue for me The characters and the city of Venice bring me back to this series time and again Donna Leon has created a world in which I can disappear and go with the flow enjoying the atmosphere and even the taste and smell of the place as I imbibe the descriptions so deliciously drawn I really love these books Hurry back Guido I want My thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for providing an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Brunetti receives an unusual reuest a woman in hospice reuests a visit from the police He and Claudia Griffoni meet with the young woman who is not only dying but also has just lost her husband They investigate the circumstances surrounding his death and as in may of Leon s other novels we learn of corruption in Venice It is wonderful to revisit these favorite characters again even if it does get depressing to hear about all of the corruption in Brunetti s beautiful city Thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for the ARC I think Donna Leon is running out of fresh ideas perhaps not surprisingly after 29 novels in this series I found the continual complaints about tourism in Venice all too familiar maybe she will write something different now about the summer of 2020 when no one is visiting and the canals are running clean Over recent novels she has chosen themes that show the corruption or mismanagement in Italian politics and business and I felt this was also becoming predictable In this book the issue is one of the contamination of Venice s drinking waterI still enjoyed meeting Guido again and his police colleagues but I found the novel for the most part rather dreary The ending was good though asking the perennial uestion of how justice can best be delivered in a flawed system Please note that there is a little spoiler in here but anyone with half a brain could figure it outIt pains me but Trace Elements barely ekes out a three star rating from meLet me start with the positive Leon is a professional novelist Her writing is crisp and clear Her body of work is rather vast and her pacing is good In my opinion NO ONE evokes Venice better than Leon Her descriptions are spot on her love for the city which I immensely enjoy during the off season is obviousWhich brings me to the negative In the past several novels Leon has come across as a malcontent who is PO ed by the changes tourists are creating in her beloved home I understand her position living in one of America s premier resorts and I ve seen the effects that tourism particularly large boat and large group tourism is having on Venice and it s tragic But no place is exactly as it was twenty or thirty years ago and most places haven t changed for the better during that time By virtue of her education and the opportunity to live as an expatriate in such a magical place Leon s life is very privileged I m not deprecating the hard work and work ethic that produces these novels But love it or leave it DonnaI also understand her recurring theme of water and pollutioncontamination One of my children is an earth scientist and economist and attorney with a specialization in hydrology and we share a love of this most precious natural resource We advocate for it as well as conserve it and have watched the MOSES mentioned in the novel and one of the most ambitious and forward thinking hydrological proposals ever for years Thi. Ppears to be a private family tragedy They discover that Fadalto worked in the field collecting samples of contamination for a company that measures the cleanliness of Venice’s water supply and that he had died in a mysterious motorcycle accident Distracted briefly by Vice uestore Patta’s obsession with youth crime in Venice Brunetti is bolstered once by the remarkable research skills of Patta’s secretary Signora Elettra Zorzi Piecing together the tangled threads
If you have never read one of Donna Leon s marvelous Guido Brunetti mysteries don t let the unfamiliar locale and culture Venice or the fact that the newly published TRACE ELEMENTS is the 29th installment in the series dissuade you These novels are written so that one can pick them up in any order at any time without missing a beat As for the culture of Venice there are elements of it that remain a mystery to all including the Venetians themselves Commissario Brunetti of the Venetian police is an observer than an interpreter which is just perfect for this long running character driven series that never fails to winningly entertainAs with most of these books TRACE ELEMENTS includes a strong primary plotline anchored by an intriguing mystery as well as a secondary problem the presentation of which constitutes an interlude Let s discuss the latter first The number of pickpockets in Venice are skyrocketing for reasons that are not entirely nown to Brunetti He is not tasked with discovering why though he figures it out He is merely instructed to deal with the issue and make it go away for a few days This he does and along the way readers get an idea of how law enforcement politics and the news media interact in VeniceThe primary mystery here takes longer to resolve It begins when Brunetti receives a call from a physician at a local hospice advising him that a dying patient wishes to speak to the police Brunetti and his colleague Claudia Griffoni respond to the bedside of Benedetta Toso a tragic figure under any circumstances In addition to being terminally ill Benedetta has recently lost her husband Vittorio Fadalto who was The Vanishing Hours killed by a hit and run driver while riding his motorcycle She is only able to offer a couple of cryptic statements that appear to be related to her husband s efforts to obtain additional money for her care at a different hospice Brunetti and Griffoni learn that Vittorio had a fairly innocuous job working as a sample collector for a company that measures the cleanliness of the Venetian water supplyIt is the enigmatic Signora Elettra Zorzi secretary to Brunetti s immediate superior Vice uestore Patta who effectively runs the department Her superior ability to gather research no matter where it may be is ultimately what provides Brunetti with the informationaley he needs to unlock the doors that reveal the why and the who behind Vittorio s death among other things All Brunetti has to decide is what to do with the information which is not nearly as simple as it may seemI say this at least once a year but it bears repeating Anyone who has even a passing interest in mystery literature should be reading this series religiously Leon is incapable of writing badly and is a subtle nuanced storyteller of the first order TRACE ELEMENTS continues her wondrous string of memorable police procedurals all of which are eepersReviewed by Joe Hartlaub As per usual in her latest novels Donna Leon uses her books to comment on social political or in this case environmental matters Also there s a subplot about pickpocket minors and the police inability to deal with them Although a crime novel the crime itself is secondary In fact it s not even clear if a murder has been committed becoming almost incidental but the story is no less entertaining because of it At the end Brunetti is presented with a moral dilem 35 stars Donna Leon and her literary creation Commissario Guido Brunetti love Venice But they don t look at that beautiful and historic city and the country of Italy itself with rose colored glasses No in this Leon s 29th in her detective series you can see how problems both internal to Venice and global ones also are getting Leon and hence Brunetti a little downMass tourism with its resulting crisis of overcrowding pollution and overall major inconvenience to the locals rising crime global warming s effect on acua alta flooding and on weather in general cronyism and corruption and bureaucracy in politics and business You name it Brunetti is suffering from its effectsBut as I said Brunetti loves Venice as does expat author Leon born in New Jersey Leon lived in Venice for perhaps 35 years beginning in the very early 1980s only moving to Switzerland in 2015 but even now visiting Venice perhaps one week per month And her personal experiences and warm regard for the city shine through in her writing We readers feel we are gaining some intimate nowledge of the real Venice even as we enjoy solving the mysteries with BrunettiIn this latest of the series Brunetti and his colleague Claudia Griffoni are called to the bedside of a dying woman whose husband had recently died in a motorcycle accident They Petit guide de l'observation du paysage killed him It was bad money I told him so That s all they can get out of her in her medically drugged and cancer weakened state Not much to go on but with the help of intrepid internet wiz Elettra Zorzi the secretary to Brunetti s boss Vice uestore Patta they will manage to uncover a whole nest of intrigue and corruption and find a murdererThis is not a favorite of mine in Leon s series It spends a bit too much time as advocacy literature with an agenda of pointing fingers at various environmental social and political issues without enough time on the actual crime and its solution I have no problem with Brunetti becoming an eco detective but I did need murder investigation and detective work here to counterbalance the dark issues of global warming corruption pollution and tourism crisisThis is really a 3 star book for me that I m giving 4 stars somewhat paradoxically for the very fact that Leon is using Brunetti and this mystery for a bit of a soapbox We need people to realize that these are serious issues and that the times are indeed dark Brunetti has always been an introspective and thoughtful character and his worries here seem uite ineeping with his personality And one can only hope that his thoughtfulness in this book will encourage thought from readersBTW the title of this TRACE ELEMENTS is clever in its double meaning First the obvious one of chemical pollution of water sources and second that mentioned by Brunetti of his having no optimism about these trace elements of behaviour ie in people not with a daughter who on the subject of the environment was as grim as any of Dante s damnedYep I m giving this 4 stars because of my bein. When Dottoressa Donato calls the uestura to report that a dying patient at the hospice Fatebenefratelli wants to speak to the police Commissario Guido Brunetti and his colleague Claudia Griffoni waste no time in responding“They illed him It was bad money I told him no” Benedetta Toso gasps the words about her recently deceased husband Vittorio Fadalto Even though he is not sure she can hear him Brunetti softly promises he and Griffoni will look into what initially