Drawing Conclusions

by Donna Leon

Hardcover, 2011

Call number





Atlantic Monthly Press (2011), Edition: First Edition, 256 pages


Commissario Guido Brunetti, with the help of Inspector Lorenzo Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra Zorzi, investigates the death of a Venetian widow in a Spartan apartment on Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio.

Media reviews

As languid in its movement as a gondola ride. Yet none of Brunetti’s earlier cases is as remorselessly clear in connecting the delicately comic anti-authoritarian gestures Brunetti winks at to the miasma of corruption that hangs over his beloved Venice.
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Commissario Brunetti beweist untrüglichen Instinkt und Feinfühligkeit. Donna Leon in Bestform - bravissimo!
Der Tagesspiegel
Ein morbides Vergnügen.

User reviews

LibraryThing member tututhefirst
Commissario Guido Brunetti is probably my all-time favorite policeman.

* He lives in Venice.
* He's still madly in love with his wife of over 20 years.
* His wife is a gorgeous, rich, educated, independent college professor who fixes him incredible homemade lunches everyday.
* He doesn't drive a
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car - he walks or takes the vaporetto (the Venetian water equivalent of a bus!)
* He has two typical teenage children he has trouble understanding.
* He hates modernity, cardboard sandwiches, and crowds.
* He reads Cicero, Tacitus and the Greeks in their original languages.
* He knows his way around the fine wine world, and often leaves the office to mull over problems at the corner bar.
* He has a jerk for a boss, and a megalomaniac working for him.
* He knows when to turn a blind eye to irregularities in process.
* He has a law degree but chooses to be a policeman.
* He often leaves his gun locked in his closet at home.
* He often forgets to carry his telefonino.
* He takes his wife flowers - often.
* He has a compassionate, caring, and intelligent manner towards those he works with-including victims, witnesses and even some accused.
* He's not afraid to trust his gut instincts.

I mean really, what's not to like?

In this latest (#20) of her police procedural mystery series, Donna Leon leads us gradually along as Brunetti is faced with trying to decide whether the unexpected death of a old lady ruled death by heart attack, was actually helped along by some outside violence. As he slowly works his way through the stories of those involved, we are again taken into the darker sides of life in the fabled city, into the culture of wife beating, political corruption, police indifference, and officials 'looking the other way' as money, information, and goods are exchanged for favors. Brunetti's incredible ability to be quiet and listen allows each participant in the event to tell his or her story and give us clues as to what really happened. The ending is vintage Brunetti and will not disappoint.

This one is Leon at her best, it is Brunetti at his most human and his most vulnerable, and it is definitely Signorina Elletra's star performance to date. For those of you who are fans of this series, you have a treat in store. For those of you who have not had a chance to sample, these are so well-written that each can stand alone, so what are you waiting for?
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LibraryThing member dianaleez
Donna Leon is back with 'Drawing Conclusions.' Brunetti and the usual suspects (Patta, Scarpa, et al) are faced with the death of an aged widow - natural causes - but perhaps as Brunetti fears, her heart attack was the result of an attack by an unknown assailant.

As usual Leon presents social/moral
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issues that besiege not only Italy but the world at large, but all here is secondary to her fascinating characterizations. The mystery/detective element is, again as usual for Leon, secondary to her telling social portrait of a world drowning in bureaucracy and violence, but it is again saved by the humanity and 'niceness' of Guido Brunetti and all that he represents.
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LibraryThing member maureen61
despite its slow start, this quietly reflective story causes you to think about a version of right and wrong that is very gray. Our moral, ethical perspecitve is challenged when a woman is found dead of an apparant heart attack but Commissario Brunetti cannot let the feeling go that something is
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awry. A goodd read that leaves one to ponder that what is ethical may not be legal and what is leagal may not be moral.
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LibraryThing member gsisson
I would give this book, along with her others, a rating of six if it were available. Wonderful characterization, plot, and a great view of the governmental running of Italy.
LibraryThing member ebyrne41
Considering how much I have enjoyed so many of her books, and how much I had looked forward to this her latest, I feel a little let down now having read it. The storyline is a bit weak, I would have hoped for more of his home life, the kids Raffi and Chiara do not feature at all, while Paolo his
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wife, and her cooking, usually so integral, feature so very little. I get the feeling Leon is growing a little tired of the series, I so hope I am wrong.
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LibraryThing member Queensowntalia
Leon's latest Guido Brunetti mystery tells the story of an elderly woman found dead in her apartment, seemingly from a heart attack. But was there more to the story?

A complex plot unfolds in the quiet manner fans of the series have come to enjoy. Interspersed with scenes from Brunetti's tranquil
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home life, the story slowly develops, adding layer after layer, finally coming to a somewhat surprising, but satisfying and bittersweet conclusion.

Overall a good read, though a bit draggy in parts. Fans and newcomers alike should enjoy it.
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LibraryThing member macabr
Guido Brunetti is having dinner with Vice-Questore Patta and Lieutenant Scarpa, forced into this social occasion ostensibly to discuss promotions. Guido is praying for the end of the world or, at least, some violent distraction by armed intruders so that he could grab a gun and rid himself of the
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two men. Brunetti is not a a violent man but dealing with these men at the Questura is one thing, dealing with them on his own time is something else again.

When his cell phone rings, Brunetti thinks it might be his wife, calling him in order to offer him a pretext for leaving. Instead, it is a real call is from the Questura. A woman has been found dead in her apartment, within walking distance of the restaurant. Neither Patta nor Scarpa would ever answer such a call, so Guido is free to leave and do his job as required. He arrives to learn that Anna Maria Giusti, returning from a few days in Sicily, had gone to her neighbor’s apartment to collect her mail. Signora Altavilla, a retired teacher in her sixties, is dead. There is some blood near her head but there are no signs of overt violence.

Brunetti has been doing his job for a long time but he has not become jaded. “A short time later, the men emerged with a stretcher, the form on it covered by a dark blue blanket. Brunetti was glad to see that the blanket was clean and freshly ironed, though he knew it made no difference.” Doctor Rizzardi, the pathologist, refuses to give Brunetti any opinion on the cause and manner of death but Guido “has a feeling” that something other than natural causes is at play. Inspecting her apartment, the police discover packages of unopened women’s underwear in a variety of sizes and individually wrapped toiletries The quiet schoolteacher opened her home as a safe haven for battered women. Men who attack the women they know would not be likely to have qualms about attacking a woman they didn’t know.

As the police continue learning about the dead woman, they discover another aspect of her life, another example of her altruism. She was a frequent visitor to a home for the aged, a willing listener to the stories told by people in their latest years. The director describes Signora Altavilla as a “confessor”, hearing things that people would never tell members of their families. “Madre Rosa referred to her terrible honesty….”. The confessor believed that absolution required restitution of goods and of reputations. Perhaps someone was afraid of the knowledge she had for even old stories can be dangerous.

In this book, there is one crime but two strands that lead to it. Leon again wraps the story around societal problems. Signora Altavilla was poking at the people who live in the shadows, those who abuse women and those who take advantage of the elderly. Brunetti is the heart of the story as he is in all the books in the series. He has not lost his humanity and he does not close his eyes to the difficulties imposed by following the letter of the law. His partnership with Signorina Elettra, the force behind the Venice police, has always led to criminal behavior. She steals information and he aids and abets her by using what she finds. Together, they work for the people of their city in ways best not investigated. Their’s is a business relationship, evolving over the years as they deal with the bureaucrats responsible for serving the best justice money can buy.

Leon seasons the story with moments that reflect Brunetti’s compassion, principles, and love of the ordinary things in life. As the family gathers for dinner, “It simply filled Brunetti’s heart to have them there and to be able to see and hear them, knowing they were safe and warm and well-fed.” He wants nothing less for the people who come into his professional life, whether old or young, wealthy or not. He is from the working class and married into the ruling class. He knows that despite their differences, he and his father-in-law are kindred spirits when it comes to family. The battered women have no family to whom they can turn. The elderly have their welfare in the hands of strangers. Guido wants to protect them as he protects his own children.

When one of the strands leads back to events fifty years before, Brunetti has to look at a basic truth from which choices are made. “…even the worst of men wanted to be perceived as better than they were.” History is always being re-written by those who abandoned conscience for cash and convenience. As Brunetti discusses bad choices made in order to bring about a positive result, he thinks of Henry of Navarre. In 1589, when the French Protestant was the last man standing in the line for the throne of France, he had to return to the Catholic Church in order to be crowned king. Henry, eager to be Henry IV, said “Paris is worth a Mass.” For Guido life in twenty-first century Italy is about the end justifying the means.

Donna Leon fills every page with details that can be spoilers. As with all the Brunetti books, DRAWING CONCLUSIONS moves very quickly. Leon is another author whose books beg to be read at one sitting. She does not provide pat endings but she provides endings that are true to her character. Brunetti is a rock. He may be worn by storms but they never change the essence of the decent man that he is.
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LibraryThing member Eyejaybee
Not up to the standard of its predecessors - I wonder if Donna Leon might be running out of steam with this series.
LibraryThing member Caffus
A mystery that may be about the mystery of dealing appropriately with the very aged. Humane.
LibraryThing member cameling
When an elderly woman is found dead in her apartment, with no sign of an intruder, and the coroner reports her death as the result of a heart attack, there should not have been any inquiry into her death. However, since Commissario Brunetti was called out to the scene of the crime, he experienced a
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sense of disquiet over her death. More so when he speaks with the coroner and is informed that there were some faint bruises on the woman's shoulder, which could have been caused by a person's gripping hand.

With the invaluable and discreet assistance provided by the charming Signorina Elettra, a network of safe houses for abused women, run by the Alba Libera, comes to his attention, as does a nursing home where the woman volunteered.

As with the other books in the series, the world of crime is offset by the intrinsically safe haven that is provided by his loving wife and children.

In the end, nothing is as they seem, people aren't who they first appear to be, and life is complicated. Does justice prevail in the end? That could be a matter for discussion.
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LibraryThing member KarenHerndon
This was an ok book but not something I would rave about detective wise. For me this was one of those books I read that is entertaining enough but in my liking won't win any prizes.
LibraryThing member smik
I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read, Donna Leon at her best: raising social issues such as how we handle the abuse of women.

We are reminded too of Brunetti's social conscience. He has become a little uncomfortable with how Signorina Elettra acquires her information. He know that she uses her
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formidable computer skills, but suspects that she also poses as a police investigator, or at least leads people to think that she is.

The investigation into the death of the elderly lady has a surprising end, revealing another crime committed some time before.
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LibraryThing member Judiex
Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to investigate the death of middle-aged woman in her apartment. She had been dead for a few days. There was a cut on her scalp, blood on the floor and radiator, and a few light marks near her neck. The death appeared to be a heart attack.
The woman was the
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mother of Vice-Questore Guiseppe Patta’s son’s former veterinarian and Patta wanted to know what happened. Fast.
His first priority is learning about the woman. With the help of his assistant Vianello and the ever-efficient Signorina Elettra, his investigation takes him into a hospital, church, and nursing home. He learns about domestic violence and the care of the elderly. And there is the ever impure government with which he must deal.
While conducting his investigation, Brunetti observes “People knew things they said and thought they did not know. Wives and husbands learned far more about the other person than they were ever meant to learn.” It is by investigating this gray area that he is able to solve the case.
Like all of the Brunetti books in Donna Leon’s series, the story flows without the gore, violence, or gratuitous sex found in many similar works. Instead we find real people facing real situations and reacting in ways that point the way to a solution via indirect lighting. The ending is unconventional but, in Brunetti’s mind, are just for this situation.
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LibraryThing member DrLed
Synopsis: An elderly lady has died from what appears to be a heart attack. However, there is some physical evidence that someone may have pushed her into that heart attack. This leads Brunetti into the world of abused women and groups set up to help them.
Review: As usual, Leon's book is rich in its
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description of Venice and its occupants. And, as usual, the ending leaves the reader with a bit of disquiet.
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LibraryThing member Pmaurer
Another of the mysteries with Guido Brunetti, as enjoyable As the rest of Donna Leon's books. This one delves into the art world of Venice. A quick read, with familiar characters and relationships.
LibraryThing member cyderry
As usual in the Commissario Brunetti series, the reader is taken on a ride through Venice while investigations are underway into the death of Signora Altavilla, an elderly woman found dead in her apartment by her neighbor. The coroner rules the death by heart attack but Brunetti is alarmed by
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bruises on her body that don't seem to fit with a fall. Delving into the woman's activities, along the help of Signorina Elettra, Brunetti finds the hidden world surrounding domestic violence and steps that often are taken to save those women who cannot protect themselves.
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LibraryThing member nanaval
Donna Leon gives us another great Commissario Guido Brunetti subtle murder mystery.
LibraryThing member nanaval
Donna Leon gives us another great Commissario Guido Brunetti subtle murder mystery.
LibraryThing member crazeedi73
I live these books, I don't want this series to ever end
LibraryThing member nautilus
I love Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti crime novels set in Venice. The crimes are often subtle, with no winners or losers. She has a mordant wit with sharp observations about Italian political and social life. I particularly like the way the character of Paola, Brunetti's wife, is often the moral
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compass of the story. Their discussions over the family meal (fabulous cooking) often tease out the dilemmas Brunetti may face throughout the story, but in an oblique way. Well worth reading.
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LibraryThing member smik
I was a bit doubtful about listening to this audio version, first of all because I had already read the book some time ago, and secondly because this is an abridged version. I generally avoid abridged books because I am never sure about what is actually left out, I was attracted to the book because
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the narrator is Andrew Sachs (Manuel from Fawlty Towers)

There is always the danger too with an audio book that you can nod off while listening, and while he does an excellent job most of the time, Sachs' voice is a bit soporific at times. Other reviewers commented on how slowly the book moved.

I have read a large number of Donna Leon titles and I think in part my enjoyment must have come from the fact that I have considerable background about the main characters: Brunetti, his colleagues and his family. I enjoy the interaction between them and the finely drawn portraits that lead to great visualisation.

As usual with Leon novels the plot incorporates elements of life in modern Venice. So there is political and administrative corruption, problems of caring for an elderly population, social violence particularly towards women. Behind it all Leon's slightly quirky sense of humour shows itself.

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LibraryThing member addunn3
Old woman apparently dies of heart attack in her apartment, but has a few unusual bruises that are unaccounted for.
LibraryThing member thornton37814
When an old woman dies of a heart attack in her home, something feels off to Commissario Guido Brunetti when he visits the scene. The coroner finds evidence the woman had been grasped from the front and that she was possibly shaken. The autopsy is conclusive she died of heart attack and that she
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hit her head on a nearby radiator when she fell. Still Brunetti feels compelled to unofficially investigate. He finds the woman, a retired teacher, volunteered at a Catholic home for seniors. In his search of the apartment following her death, he found unopened packages of cheap women's lingerie in multiple sizes. He finds a cause for this in the investigation, and this leads to a further thread of investigation. This is not the strongest installment in the series, and Brunetti seems to feel guilt for some of the things Signorina Elettra does and that he asks her to do which skirt the law. I enjoyed listening to the installment read by David Colacci even if it wasn't a favorite in terms of plot.
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LibraryThing member jetangen4571
Venice, law-enforcement, lawyers, class-consciousness, family, family-dynamics, friendship, departmental-rivalry, investigation, fraud, coercion****

I'm weaving an irregular path through the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries. Just because I finally have the time. The order of the books is vaguely
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irrelevant to me because I am completely ignorant of Italian policing and finances but love to see visual or word pictures of Venice. That being said, this is an interesting think piece. At what point does a heart attack become murder? Who, how and why? Leave it to Brunetti to leave no tesserae unturned and learn things about himself in the process.
I have the audio ably narrated by David Colacci with his clear and easy to understand pleasant voice interpretation.
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LibraryThing member witchyrichy
Guido Brunetti investigates the supposedly accidental death of an old woman. The usual characters and typical Leon twist.




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