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Earthly Remains (Guido Brunetti Series #26)

Earthly Remains (Guido Brunetti Series #26)

by Donna Leon

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Donna Leon’s bestselling mystery novels set in Venice have won a multitude of fans for their insider’s portrayal of La Serenissima. From family meals to coffee bars, and from vaporetti rides to the homes and apartments of Venetians, the details and rhythms of everyday life are an integral part of this beloved series. But so are the suffocating corruption,


Donna Leon’s bestselling mystery novels set in Venice have won a multitude of fans for their insider’s portrayal of La Serenissima. From family meals to coffee bars, and from vaporetti rides to the homes and apartments of Venetians, the details and rhythms of everyday life are an integral part of this beloved series. But so are the suffocating corruption, the never-ending influx of tourists, and crimes big and small. Through it all, Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti has been an enduring figure. A good man who loves his family and his city, Brunetti is relentless in his pursuit of truth and some measure of justice.

In Earthly Remains, the twenty-sixth novel in this series, Brunetti’s endurance is tested more than ever before. During an interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret. In the fallout, he realizes that he needs a break, needs to get away from the stifling problems of his work.

When Brunetti is granted leave from the Questura, his wife, Paola, suggests he stay at the villa of a relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the laguna. There he intends to pass his days rowing, and his nights reading Pliny’s Natural History. The recuperative stay goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house on Sant’Erasmo, goes missing following a sudden storm. Now, Brunetti feels compelled to investigate, to set aside his leave of absence and understand what happened to the man who had become his friend.

Earthly Remains is quintessential Donna Leon, a powerful addition to this celebrated series.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Leon’s enticing 26th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2016’s The Waters of Eternal Youth) finds the Venetian policeman at headquarters one hot July day, questioning an arrogant lawyer accused of drugging a young woman he met at a party who subsequently died. When Brunetti has a heart seizure during this contentious interview, he winds up in the hospital. Prescribed complete rest, he later takes his wife’s suggestion of staying at a villa on a sparsely inhabited island in the Venetian Lagoon. There he befriends Davide Casati, the villa’s caretaker and a keeper of bees, some of which are mysteriously dying. Then, during a fierce storm, Davide disappears. Brunetti undertakes a search that leads to the discovery of his friend’s body and boat. Was Davide’s death an accident? He had been grief stricken since his wife’s death, Brunetti learns, and recently remorseful over the demise of his beloved bees. Along the way to the poignant ending, Brunetti develops insights into nature and humankind’s failure to protect it, as well as the nature of guilt and its role in a man’s life. Agent: Susanna Bauknecht, Diogenes Verlag (Switzerland). (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Earthly Remains:

“Leon’s multifaceted portrait of a man overburdened with human tragedy emerges forcefully here, as the lagoon itself, beautiful on the surface but containing the seeds of its own destruction, stands as a gripping metaphor for the bad choices and intractable dilemmas that infect us all . . . Leon[’s] . . . novels, with their unparalleled evocation of landscape and sensitivity to character, have attracted an audience that encompasses fiction readers of all kinds.”Booklist (starred review)

“A vacation for your own soul.”Kirkus Reviews

“Bestseller Leon’s enticing 26th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery . . . Along the way to the poignant ending, Brunetti develops insights into nature and humankind’s failure to protect it, as well as the nature of guilt and its role in a man’s life.”Publishers Weekly

Praise for Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries:

“Leon is the ideal author for people who vaguely long for a ‘good mystery’ . . . That Leon is also a brilliant writer should only add to the consistently comforting appeal of her Venetian procedurals featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, an immensely likable police detective who takes every murder to heart.”—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Few detective writers create so vivid, inclusive, and convincing a narrative as Donna Leon . . . One of the most exquisite and subtle detective series ever.”Washington Post

“The sophisticated but still moral Brunetti, with his love of food and his loving family, proves a worthy custodian of timeless values and verities.”Wall Street Journal

“[Leon] uses the relatively small and crime-free canvas of Venice for rips about Italian life, sexual styles and—best of all—the kind of ingrown business and political corruption that seems to lurk just below the surface.”Chicago Tribune

“Hers is an unusually potent cocktail of atmosphere and event.”New Yorker

“For those who know Venice, or want to, Brunetti is a well-versed escort to the nooks, crannies, moods, and idiosyncrasies of what residents call La Serenissima, the Serene One . . . Richly atmospheric, [Leon] introduces you to the Venice insiders know.”USA Today

“Donna Leon is the undisputed crime fiction queen . . . Leon’s ability to capture the social scene and internal politics [of Venice] is first-rate.”Baltimore Sun

“Terrific at providing, through its weary but engaging protagonist, a strong sense of the moral quandaries inherent in Italian society and culture.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Brunetti is one of the most attractive policemen in crime fiction today.”Philadelphia Inquirer

“As always, Brunetti is highly attuned to (and sympathetic toward) the failings of the humans around him.”Seattle Times

“Fabulous.”Kansas City Star

“Leon’s writing trembles with true feeling.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Compassionate yet incorruptible, Brunetti knows that true justice doesn’t always end in an arrest or a trial.”Publishers Weekly

“[Brunetti] is a superb police detective—calm, deliberate, and insightful as he investigates with a reflective thoroughness.”Library Journal

“The appeal of Guido Brunetti, the hero of Donna Leon’s long-running Venetian crime series, comes not from his shrewdness, though he is plenty shrewd, nor from his quick wit. It comes, instead, from his role as an Everyman . . . [his life is] not so different from our own days at the office or nights around the dinner table. Crime fiction for those willing to grapple with, rather than escape, the uncertainties of daily life.”Booklist

“I never turn down a Brunetti mystery . . . It is amazingly easy to jump on board with any particular book and work your way backward or forward. Leon is masterful at filling in the blanks of the past for newbies while keeping the current story going . . . [She] continues to pull back the veil on one of the world’s most exotic cities, revealing aspects of it that few people have seen and that most do not even know exist.”Bookreporter

“One of the most popular crime series worldwide . . . Leon’s vivid evocation of the city of Venice is, of course, part of the appeal . . . While the Brunetti books, with their abundance of local color and gastronomic treats, appeal to the fans of the traditional mystery, Leon has something darker and deeper in mind.”Life Sentence

“Leon started out with offhand, elegant excellence, and has simply kept it up.”Guardian (UK)

“Comfort reading of the highest order.”Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“Donna Leon has established Commissario Guido Brunetti as one of the most engaging of fictional detectives.”Sunday Times (UK)

“Donna Leon’s novels have become successively more subtle, more complex and perhaps more serious, without ever losing their compelling power as narratives.”London Evening Standard

“One of Venice’s greatest contemporary chroniclers . . . Leon has her finger on the pulse.”Daily Mirror (UK)

“Leon’s books are an antidote to the dark, unsettling landscape of so much contemporary crime fiction.”Times (UK)

“Operatic brilliance . . . Donna Leon appears to have the knack of keeping her Venice-set Brunetti books as fresh as paint”Independent (UK)

“These Leon novels are a pensive pleasure, refined in technique and humane in the vision they express.”Sydney Morning Herald

“Donna Leon has firmly taken her place in the pantheon of mystery writers.”ABC (Madrid)

“With Commissario Brunetti, Donna Leon has created a character that is charismatic, intelligent, and human.”Die Welt (Berlin)

“Leon does not hesitate to take an acid look at Italian society . . . But the world of this cultured Commissioner, a gourmand and connoisseur of human nature, is not sad however, quite the contrary. In the footsteps of Brunetti, endowed with a ruthless humor and a healthy appetite, Leon’s readers discover Venice better than with a guide book.”Le Monde (Paris)

Library Journal
In this 26th entry in a relentlessly building series, Commissario Guido Brunetti snaps while interrogating a swaggering man implicated in a girl's death. Needing a break, he is packed off to a villa owned by a wealthy relative on Sant'Erasmo, one of the Laguna's largest islands. All he wants to do is go rowing and read Pliny, but the disappearance of the villa's caretaker sets him on a different course.
Kirkus Reviews
Commissario Guido Brunetti, taking two weeks away from the Venetian Questura for complete rest and solitude, gets both more and less solitude than he bargained for and about the same amount of rest as when he's home.An impetuous inspiration about how to save a subordinate from embarrassment ends up sending Brunetti to the hospital, where he's diagnosed with high stress and urged to take some time off. His thoughtful wife, Paola, comes up with the perfect retreat: a villa her aunt owns on the nearby island of Sant'Erasmo. Packing four volumes of the classics, Brunetti (The Waters of Eternal Youth, 2016, etc.) prepares to soothe his soul by doing something physical by day and reading Pliny by night. The something physical he prescribes himself is rowing with Davide Casati, the villa's 70-something custodian, who, to Brunetti's delight, turns out to be an old friend of his father. But Casati is haunted by sadness over his dead wife, a mysterious ailment that's killing the bees he keeps and loves, and a secret he's not willing to confess even to his old friend's son. "Do you think some of the things we do can never be forgiven?" he asks Brunetti enigmatically, shortly before the Commissario finds him drowned beneath his overturned boat. It's an accident, of course, but Brunetti's keen judgment, which never takes a day off, is convinced that the timing of Casati's death is anything but coincidental and sets out to find—not the person who killed him (fans of this highly regarded series will know better than to expect much drama in this revelation) but the reason he died. Perhaps the most minimal of all Leon's mysteries, with no suspects to speak of and few details of the Commissario's domestic life or his eternal professional tussles at the Questura. Think of this barely-a-case as a vacation for your own soul.

Product Details

Grove Atlantic
Publication date:
Guido Brunetti Series , #26
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Donna Leon is the author of the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Donna Leon lived in Venice for many years and now divides her time between Venice and Switzerland.

Brief Biography

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