Drawing Conclusions (Guido Brunetti Series #20)

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Overview

Donna Leon's latest New York Times bestseller "is one of her best" (Booklist, starred review)

Twenty years ago Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti and his creator, Donna Leon, first introduced readers to the delights-and dangers-of Venice. Now they have millions of devoted fans. In Drawing Conclusions, a young woman arrives home and senses that all is not right in the apartment below. When she investigates, she finds her neighbor lying lifeless on the floor. The autopsy shows ...

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Drawing Conclusions (Guido Brunetti Series #20)

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Overview

Donna Leon's latest New York Times bestseller "is one of her best" (Booklist, starred review)

Twenty years ago Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti and his creator, Donna Leon, first introduced readers to the delights-and dangers-of Venice. Now they have millions of devoted fans. In Drawing Conclusions, a young woman arrives home and senses that all is not right in the apartment below. When she investigates, she finds her neighbor lying lifeless on the floor. The autopsy shows that the widow's death was due to a heart attack, but Brunetti is convinced that things are not as straightforward as they seem. With her signature combination of humanity, nuanced detail, and psychological insight, Leon's twentieth Brunetti mystery reaffirms her place in the pantheon of crime fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
“Donna Leon’s 20th Venetian mystery featuring her compassionate police detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti, epitomizes what we treasure most about this series: a feeling for the life of a sublimely beautiful city and a sensitivity to the forces that are reshaping it. Not to mention the pleasure of being in Brunetti’s company when this shrewd but scrupulously honest man is having a crisis of ethics at the flower market or trying to pry information from a hostile nun.”
Tom Nolan
“By now, with the arrival of Donna Leon’s 20th Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery, the Venetian police commissioner seems almost as much an institution as the city’s venerable buildings. … In an age of diminished civic and religious authority, the commissario—as his investigation proceeds—must make Jesuitical decisions of his own about guilt and innocence, punishment and absolution. In this finely written account, he comes down (as we know he will) on the side of the angels.”
Lynne F. Maxwell
“This fine novel is Leon’s 20th mystery featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, the unparalleled Venetian police investigator who enlivens this intelligent series. … As always, Brunetti’s investigative acumen, his patience, and most of all, his profound comprehension of the human psyche enable him to bring the case to a closure of sorts. Yet the powerful conclusions does not, in fact, directly divulge the solution, and it is this haunting ambiguity that renders Drawing Conclusions Leon’s most provocative novel to date.  … VERDICT: Aficionados of literary mysteries such as those written by P.D. James and Michael Dibdin will revel in this stellar book. If you read only one mystery this year, make it this one.”
Bill Ott
“Leon’s twentieth novel starring Venetian police Commissario Guido Brunetti is one of her best.  … When [Brunetti] muses, the reader listens almost hypnotically, transfixed by the somehow ennobling ordinariness of this remarkable man’s humanity but also by the subtlety of his mind and his absolute refusal to succumb to the tyranny of bureaucrats and moralists.  … Leon’s popularity among mystery fans has grown steadily, but over the last several years, she has become a must-read for all those who favor character-driven crime stories.”
Merle Minda
“There is always doubt mixed with anticipation before diving into the latest in a favorite mystery series. The uncertainty is always there — will it deliver the same fascination as previous books? Or will it disappoint? … The compelling characters and complex plot in Leon's Drawing Conclusions place it among her best. The atmosphere of the city, along with Leon's sharp insights and powerful narrative, validate her often-recognized status as a master of literary crime fiction.”
Marilyn Stasio
Drawing Conclusions…epitomizes what we treasure most about this series: a feeling for the life of a sublimely beautiful city and a sensitivity to the forces that are reshaping it. Not to mention the pleasure of being in Brunetti's company when this shrewd but scrupulously honest man is having a crisis of ethics at the flower market or trying to pry information from a hostile nun.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Leon's fine 20th Commisario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2010's A Question of Belief) explores violence against women and the treatment of the elderly. The Venetian medical examiner has ruled that Costanza Altavilla, a widow in her 60s, died of a heart attack, but Brunetti has his doubts. The discovery of several changes of clothes in various sizes in the deceased's modest apartment and Brunetti's talks with the insightful Signorina Elettra reveal that Altavilla was running a safe house for women escaping domestic violence. Could one of the abusive men have confronted Altavilla and scared her to death? Brunetti's investigation takes him to an old-age home, where Altavilla volunteered, in search of answers. Leon provides a vivid view of Venice, balancing the city's "glory days" with the reality of "the flaking dandruff of sun-blasted paint peeling from shutters." Compassionate yet incorruptible, Brunetti knows that true justice doesn't always end in an arrest or a trial. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143120643
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Series: Guido Brunetti Series , #20
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 106,321
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

A New Yorker of Irish/Spanish descent, Donna Leon first went to Italy in 1965, returning regularly over the next decade or so while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, China and finally Saudi Arabia. It was after a period in Saudi Arabia, which she found ‘damaging physically and spiritually’ that Donna decided to move to Venice, where she has now lived for over twenty years.

Her debut as a crime fiction writer began as a joke: talking in a dressing room in Venice’s opera-house La Fenice after a performance, Donna and a singer friend were vilifying a particular German conductor. From the thought ‘why don’t we kill him?’ and discussion of when, where and how, the idea for Death at La Fenice took shape, and was completed over the next four months.

Donna Leon is the crime reviewer for the London Sunday Times and is an opera expert. She has written the libretto for a comic opera, entitled Dona Gallina. Set in a chicken coop, and making use of existing baroque music, Donna Gallina was premiered in Innsbruck. Brigitte Fassbaender, one of the great mezzo-sopranos of our time, and now head of the Landestheater in Innsbruck, agreed to come out of retirement both to direct the opera and to play the part of the witch Azuneris (whose name combines the names of the two great Verdi villainesses Azucena and Amneris).

Biography

Donna Leon's love affair with Italy began in the mid-1960s when she visited for the first time. She returned frequently over the course of the next decade, while working as a teacher in such far-flung paces as Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, England, Iran, and China. In the 1980s, the New Jersey native made the decision to move to Venice, where she still lives.

Leon's writing career began accidentally. One evening, following a performance at Venice's famous opera house, Teatro La Fenice, Leon and some friends were discussing a certain conductor they all heartily disliked. Someone jokingly suggested killing him off; and when the conversation turned to how, where, and why, suddenly the idea for a dandy murder mystery took shape in Leon's mind. Published in 1992, Death at La Fenice introduced Commissario Guido Brunetti, the melancholy Venetian policeman who would go on to star in a series of witty, intelligently plotted, and critically acclaimed detective novels.

Brunetti is, indeed, one of the most appealing characters in crime fiction, and one of the pleasures of the series is the revelation of new and surprising facets to his personality. Intellectual, introspective, and world weary, he is also happily married, totally committed to his job, and a lover of classical music, good food, and jokes. But, above all, Guido Brunetti is "Venetian to the bone" -- born into and shaped by a society filled with cultural contradictions. Through her detective's eyes, Leon illuminates the central paradox of Venice: Beneath the ravishing beauty and civilized veneer lurks a core of insidious and utterly pervasive corruption. Brunetti's cynicism stems from his inability to stem the tide -- although, bless his heart, he never stops trying.

Elegant writing, deft characterization, and lots of local color elevate the Brunetti novels above run-of-the-mill series, and Leon's reputation has grown with each installment. But although her books are international bestsellers, they have never been translated into Italian. The author explained why in an interview with National Public Radio: " I do not take any pleasure whatsoever in being a famous person. The tenor of my life would change if these books were translated into Italian, because I'm completely anonymous here." Anonymous in Venice, perhaps. Elsewhere, Donna Leon is a rock star!

Good To Know

An opera buff with a passion for baroque music, Leon has written the libretto for a comic opera entitled Dona Gallina.

For a few years, Leon reviewed crime fiction for the Sunday Times.

In Germany, several of the Commissario Brunetti novels have been adapted into television mini-series.

A woman of strong opinions, Leon reads voraciously for topical issues to use in her novels. Among the serious matters she has written about are industrial pollution, human trafficking, illegal adoption, and corruption in the Catholic Church.

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    1. Hometown:
      Venice, Italy
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 28, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Montclair, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., 1964; M.A. 1969; postgraduate work in English literature

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 50 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2011

    If You Miss Donna Leon's Earlier Mysteries, This One's For You

    After the disappointing A Question of Belief and About Face, I had resolved to quit reading Donna Leon's new books and go back to her excellent first mysteries. The way she combined social issues with fast-paced detective work in the early books was irresistible. My favorite was her first -- Death at La Fenice.

    Then her books started to emphasize the social issues more than the mysteries until in the last few books the murders seemed to take a back seat. I stopped reading about halfway through A Question of Belief when there had been no apparent crime yet.

    In Drawing Conclusions, there is a dead body very quickly and when Brunetti takes the call, he suspects that it may not have been an accidental death. There are clues and suspicious characters in abundance and the story moves briskly in police procedural fashion. Along with Brunetti, we consider the evidence, imagine possible scenarios, weigh motives and opportunities.

    And don't worry, Leon hasn't lost her social conscience - elder care and domestic violence play prominent roles in the story.

    With help from Signorina Ellettra and despite the usual obstructions from his superior, Vice-Questore Patta, Brunetti comes to a conclusion that is somewhat unorthodox by traditional mystery standards, but completely satisfying. Welcome back, Donna Leon!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a great tale

    Venetian medical examiner Dr. Rizzardi concludes that sexagenarian Widow Costanza Altavilla died from a heart attack in her apartment in Santa Croce. Although he has no justification to investigate the death as Rizzardi is a diligent professional, Commissario Guido Brunetti feels something is not quite right. Thus he looks around the home and finds unexplained different sizes of female attire.

    After consulting with Signorina Elettra, Brunetti knows the late woman ran a safe house for women fleeing from domestic abuse. The cop ponders if perhaps one of these violent men assaulted Altavilla in her home; causing the sixtyish woman to suffer the deadly heart failure. He soon follows a clue that leads to a senior citizen home, where the deceased volunteered her services as Brunetti begins to ponder whether the motive is avarice instead of violence or perhaps both.

    The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti Italian police procedural (see A Question of Belief) is a great tale that looks closely at how a civilized society treats abused women and the elderly; the results are not very compassionate. A key element in this terrific investigation is that Rizzardi is respected as a pro, which Brunetti believes too; but his experience and his gut tell him otherwise. Readers will relish sailing the watery streets of Venice with the caring Commissario who understands justice and the law is not always in synch.

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating Tale

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

    Okay

    I loved the first several Brunetti books . But then they changed more to social issues books this one is not like that anymore. But it is somber and somewhat deorrssing. I miss the good old Brunetti books . They gave a glimpse into Italian and tge Brunetti's lifestyle. They were fun to read. This one isn't.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I wish I could leave more than 5 stars!

    Commissario Guido Brunetti has been called to the apartment of Costanza Altavilla, a widow whose neighbor found her dead in her apartment. The medical examiner has ruled that a heart attack was the cause of death, but there are marks on Signora Altavilla's body that suggest something worse. Although it's not an authorized investigation, Brunetti cannot rest until he finds out if there was foul play.

    After questioning Altavilla's neighbors and son, Brunetti discovers that Signora Altavilla has been providing shelter to battered women, as well as visiting people in a nursing home. Brunetti and Inspector Vianello are further assisted in their investigation by Signorina Elettra, the assistant to Guido's superior, Vice-Questore Patta.

    Ms. Leon gives the reader a glimpse of Italian life and the political system through the eyes of her protagonist. Brunetti is a happy, complex man, despite his struggles with his superior and his conscience when accepting information gleaned illegally by the ever resourceful Signorina Elettra.

    Buoyed by his love for his family and the City of Venice, Ms. Leon brilliantly paints Brunetti with a cynical brush while maintaining his humanity and love of beauty. Intelligent and insightful, DRAWING CONCLUSIONS is another wonderful book in the Brunetti series. Lynn Kimmerle

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2014

    A really good series.

    Love these books. Will continue to read them until she quits writing them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Ghihnjbbb

    () __ ()

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2012

    Thank you Donna Leon!

    So good to have Guido back and be guided though the most beautiful city Venenzia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    highly recommend

    Excellent as always - Guido Brunetti is a most believable character, interesting views of Venice and an equally excellent supporting cast.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Venetians

    Another interesting tale of life and crime in Venice, as seen through the eyes of the wily Commissario Brunetti. What he sees of life at work contrasts with his happy home life, and but for that he might have become as cynical and corrupt as those around him. Luckily for us he remains on the straight and narrow, although occasionally turning a blind eye to the devices used by those who work with him. All in all a series that makes the reader want more. In Drawing Conclusions that can be taken quite literally as the story wraps up just a little too nicely.

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