Beastly Things (Guido Brunetti Series #21)

Beastly Things (Guido Brunetti Series #21)

3.5 23
by Donna Leon
     
 

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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 can’t show pictures of his face? The autopsy shows a way

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Overview

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 can’t 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 Brunetti’s 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, Leon’s Beastly Things is immensely enjoyable, intriguing, and ultimately moving.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“As if Brunetti weren’t 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 can—at 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 Leon’s 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 can’t 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 Leon’s 21st Commissario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice, doesn’t 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 Sayers’s 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 Brunetti’s moral compass straight while letting him enjoy good food, wine, and loving support, Beastly Things is a quietly satisfying celebration of the series’s twenty-first birthday. Long may it continue.”—Peter Green, The New Republic

“Brunetti’s 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)

Kirkus Reviews
The death of an inoffensive veterinarian takes Commissario Guido Brunetti once more into the heart of the human beast. Even after the victim is identified--and it's a good long time before he is--the name of Dottor Andrea Nava's killer seems less mysterious than the question of why someone, anyone, would have stabbed him in the back three times and dumped his body into a Venetian canal. Although he's estranged from his wife, Anna Doni, she faints from either grief or guilt when Brunetti and his friend, Inspector Lorenzo Vianello, break the news to her. Clara Baroni, his assistant at the Clinica Amico Mio veterinary practice, can shed no light on his death. And although his sad little dalliance with Giulia Borelli, Director Alessandro Papetti's assistant at the slaughterhouse where he moonlighted part time, may have threatened his marriage, it hardly seems a weighty enough motive for murder. It's not until after a tour of the slaughterhouse brings Brunetti and Vianello up against the horrid realities behind the meat they placidly consume every day that Brunetti realizes that carcasses aren't the most bestial presences lurking there. Brunetti, who airily tells his wife Paola, "I don't do ethical," spends less time than usual (Drawing Conclusions, 2011, etc.) butting heads with his nemesis, Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta. But his conspiratorial dealings with his omni-competent assistant Signora Elettra and his suave attempts at acting dumb while he's questioning his few suspects are equally rewarding.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802120236
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Series:
Guido Brunetti Series, #21
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,320,792
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.06(d)

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