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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

‘The Golden Egg’ By Donna Leon

Published by Atlantic Monthly Press,
11 March 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2242-1(USA)
Arrow, 6 March 2014.
ISBN-13: 978-0099584971 (UK)

It is no mean feat to sustain a mystery series at this high a level through 18 novels.  Of course, that is just what Donna Leon has accomplished, and more (this is the 19th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery).  Of course, "The Golden Egg" features that charming and erudite Venetian detective in a tale that begins with the death of a mentally challenged deaf mute who works in a tailor shop frequented by Brunetti's wife, Paola.  She goads Brunetti into looking into the death, which appears to be natural.

At the same time, Brunetti's boss timidly asks him to look into whether or not the mayor's son's fiancée, part owner of a store, is evading taxes or paying bribes to tax officials.  The mayor, of course, is running for re-election and could do without any embarrassing revelations.  The Commissario solves this one quickly and smoothly, but spends the entire novel on the other investigation, which becomes more complicated with every interview, no part of which is an official inquiry.

The charm of Brunetti's home life, his relationship with his wife, daughter and son are always plusses in the books that make up this series.  Unlike most others, the central theme of this novel is not a serious issue, but a personal, subtle one.  Written with the usual depth of knowledge about Venice, its allure and atmosphere, the novel is recommended.
Reviewer:  Ted Feit

Donna Leon was born in Montclair, New Jersey of Irish/Spanish descent. She first went to Italy as a student in 1965 returning regularly over the next decade while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, (where she taught English to helicopter pilots for three years), China (teaching literature at a university near Shanghai) and finally Saudi Arabia.  Donna then decided to move to Venice permanently, where she has now lived for more than twenty five years.  Her novels are all set in Venice, featuring police Commissario Guido Brunette and are widely praised, amongst other things, for her ability to create a remarkable sense of place, and to conjure up the sights and smells of Venice.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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