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Drawing Conclusions
Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery #20
Donna Leon

Atlantic Monthly Press
20 11 / ISBN 0802119794
Police Procedurals / Italy /Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: Because she had worked for decades as a translator of fiction and non-fiction from English and German to Italian, Anna Maria Giusti was familiar with a wide range of subjects.

When a woman finds the body of her neighbor, Comm. Guido Brunetti is called to the scene. The medical examiner pronounces the cause of death to be a heart attack, but Brunetti has questions created by the blood from a wound on the victim’s head and a bruise near her throat. A search for the truth leads Guido to a home for the elderly, but it takes the assistance of Insp. Vianello and the talented Signorina Electtra to learn the truth surrounding the victim’s life and death.

There are many reasons to love Ms. Leon’s books. From the very first page, you are drawn into the story with no desire to leave it until the final line.
Leon creates such a definitive sense of place you feel you are by Brunetti’s side.

The love both the author, and thus the character, have for Venice is apparent yet not idealized. They are aware of the flaws and decay which surrounds them, while realizing the irony of the city’s physical decay adding to its perceived charm. Her description of meals always leaves me hungry.

Brunetti’s relationship with Paola creates a solid core to both Brunitti’s character and the story. The dialogues between them bespeak a long marriage between two people who love, respect and understand one another as often exemplified by the humor in their conversations. One characteristic which makes Brunetti such a good policeman is that he accepts the possibility of “less tangible phenomenon.” In this case, it is feeling the “traces of a troubled death” in the victim’s apartment that causes him to investigate further in spite of the examiner declaring the cause to be a natural death. Including
such details as Brunetti’s view of faith adds to our understanding of the character.

The somewhat enigmatic Signorina Elettra Zorzi is brilliant and clever and someone from whom no information is safe. You also feel she would be a dangerous person to annoy as her revenge would be subtle yet effective. Leon does not slight the supporting characters either. Even the most minor player is fully developed and memorable.

Even the strongest opening, the most evocative sense of place, and the most natural dialogue can’t support a book without a compelling plot. No worries here. There are interesting observations on the differences between Italians from the North and South as well as a fascinating insight of battered women and the private system of safe houses to protect them. There are intriguing ethical and legal questions to make you think. And there are truths; some simple, but truths nonetheless, about that which is really important and the lengths to which one will go to protect it.

If you’re looking for car chases and fist fights; look elsewhere. “Drawing Conclusions” is a wonderfully written book that will stay with you after closing the cover.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Death At La Fenice #1
Death and Judgment #4
Drawing Conclusions #20
Beastly Things #21
The Golden Egg #22
By Its Cover #23
The Waters of Eternal Youth #25

Earthly Remains #26

Reviewed 2011