Book 20, in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
As usual Ms. Leon’s social concerns always play a prominent component of her mysteries; in her latest tale she looks into how a civilized society treats abused women and the elderly. The catchy setting is the romantic waterways of Venice with the loveable and caring Commissario Brunetti at the helm.
The story opens with the death of sexagenarian, Widow Costanza Altavilla, from what appears to be a fatal heart attack in her apartment in Santa Croce. The medical examiner concludes, no foul play, death by natural causes. Brunetti’s experience and instincts lead him in a completely different direction, why would an elderly woman living alone have clothing of different sizes and style not fitting her stature? Digging deeper he uncovers the fact she was running a clandestine safe house for women seeking shelter from domestic abuse, perhaps her death is the result of an encounter with a violent partner of one of these women. Eventually the enquiry brings him to a senior citizens home and to a gallery of a questionable art dealer……and with the help of Inspector Lorenzo Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra Zorzi, the truth surfaces and justice prevails.
As we expect from Ms. Leon, the novel is beautifully written, narrated with elegance and sly humour. Set against a backdrop of police indifference and corruption we see another side of Brunetti, distressed and having contradictory feeling towards the casual attitude of his fellow Venetians. The story is well-paced and moves very quickly with some unexpected twists to keep us guessing till the end, a never ending game of speculation trying to guess what really happened to Signora Altavilla. As always, the domestic interludes play a vital part of Donna Leon’s novels, this one is no exception. She has seasoned her story with moments that reflect her protagonist’s compassion, principles and the love for the simple pleasures of life.
“Drawing Conclusions” is an interesting and captivating addition to the series I enjoyed thoroughly