Earthly Remains

Earthly Remains, Donna Leon's 26th novel featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti (after The Waters of Eternal Youth), takes a slight departure from the standard Venetian setting. During an interrogation, Brunetti makes a rash decision, and realizes his mental health has been compromised. He needs a break. His wife, Paola, suggests he spends a few weeks at her wealthy aunt's exclusive villa on the secluded island of Sant'Erasmo.

Brunetti finds the retreat idyllic and infinitely peaceful, spending his days decompressing and rowing on the lagoon with Davide Casati, the caretaker of the villa. But then, during a storm, Casati goes missing. But Brunetti cannot believe that such an experienced boatman would suffer an accident. Worried that perhaps it was suicide, because of the strange things the elderly man would sometimes mutter, Brunetti can't resist using his official status to delve into the mystery of Casati's disappearance. What he finds is shocking--and leads to questions that Brunetti and his team struggle to answer.

Showcasing the stark contrast between Venice's organic beauty and the decay that centuries of neglect and overindulgence have laid upon it, Earthly Remains delicately captures the tension that modern Italians face. Government corruption, police fatigue and unbridled capitalism are clearly portrayed as negative, while Brunetti's love of ancient Roman history and the natural peace of the lagoon are celebrated. Mystery readers who enjoy a little philosophical introspection are sure to love this latest entry in a delightful series perfect for fans of Henning Mankell or Louise Penny. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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