Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

by Donna Leon

Hardcover, 2017

Call number





Atlantic Monthly Press (2017), 304 pages


"Donna Leon's bestselling mystery novels have won a multitude of fans for their insider's portrayal of Venice. From family meals to vaporetti rides, the details and rhythms of everyday life are an integral part of this beloved series. But so are the never-ending influx of tourists and the suffocating corruption. Through it all, Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti, a good man who loves his family and his city, has been an enduring figure, but in Earthly Remains, Brunetti's endurance is tested more than ever before. During an interrogation, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he quickly comes to regret, and in the fallout, he realizes that he needs a break. Granted leave from the Questura, Brunetti's wife Paola ships him off to a villa owned by a wealthy 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 David Casati, the caretaker of the house, 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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member smik
Underlying the crimes committed in this novel, is an in-depth look at the problems plaguing modern day Venice. Davide Casati is haunted by the role he has played in compromising the ecology of Venice, in causing the death of his bees, and perhaps even the death of his wife.

Out rowing with Casati
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every day while he is taking recuperative leave Guido Brunetti becomes aware of the Casati's troubled mind, and when Casati is found drowned he decides to find out what happened in his past.

Once again Donna Leon takes an issue that is troubling modern Venice,embeds some crime fiction in it, and then makes us think about the bigger picture, issues that make even have global implications.

An excellent read.
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LibraryThing member p.d.r.lindsay
I have always enjoyed the Commissario Brunetti series. Set in Venice with an MC who I have always wanted to meet this police series is as much about people as it is about crime. Author, Donna Leon has a literary way with words and a good understanding of human nature.

The plot of 'Earthly Remains'
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is absolutely topical and nasty and frustrating. Set against the natural peace and beauty of the Venice laguna is mankind's nastiness and Brunetti cannot tie up all the loose ends but the reader can.

A very good read for all whodunit fans and for those who like foreign locations and especially for readers who want a great read.
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LibraryThing member pennykaplan
Brunetti takes a couple of weeks sick leave to spend on an island in the Venice lagoon. He reunites with an old friend of his father's whose sudden death prompts him to investigate and learn about decades old pollution of the lagoon. Not much mystery but great setting and characters!
LibraryThing member VictoriaJZ
Yet another entry in the Guido Brunetti series. I have enjoyed reading each one. Unfortunately, in this one there is no justice done when the mystery is unraveled. But, then, that may well be her point.
LibraryThing member Judiex
As well-written and engaging as her previous books, in EARTHLY REMAINS Donna Leon takes Venice Commissario Guido Brunetti on a different path than his previous stories. At the beginning of the story, Guido realized that the police officer with him was about to attack the man with them, the one who
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might have been responsible for the death of a young woman. Acting quickly to diffuse the situation, Guido faked a heart attack. The trick worked, but Guido didn’t know how to let them know he wasn’t really ill. So he was taken by ambulance to the hospital where the doctor insisted that he be tested.
After looking at the results of the tests, the doctor realized Guido had not had a heart attack but had high blood pressure. She said he was suffering from exhaustion caused by stress which might lead to a heart attack. She recommended that he take two or three works off to give himself a chance to recuperate.
Guido decided to go to Sant’Erasmo, a nearby island where one of his wife’s relatives had a home available for his use. The escape worked wonders. He looked forward to rowing and reading the Greek and Latin classics he hadn’t reread for awhile. Davide Casati, the caretaker of the property, and his daughter, Federica, took care of his every need: food, laundry, housecleaning by Federica and daily row boat trips with Davide, whose wife had died four years earlier and whose grave he visited at least once a week. He blamed himself for her death.
Davide was also a beekeeper. On one of their trips, Davide became very upset when he saw that his bees were dying. Then, one day, he told Guido that he would not be available the following two days because he had business to attend to. A violent storm swept through that night and he did not return. No one knew where he had gone.
Federica asked Guido’s help in locating her father and, with the help of the local authorities, he set out to do just that, interviewing people of the area and others that Davido had known in the past. In the process, hidden secrets began to surface.
The Commissario Guido Brunetti series is a welcome relief from the profane, violent, bloody, car chasing scenes typical in many modern mysteries. The main villains are the politicians and those with connections to them especially his boss, Vice Questore Guiseppi Patta. His long-time helpers, particularly Ispettore Lorenzo Vianetti, Claudia Griffoni, and his boss’s well-connected secretary, Signorina Elettra Zorzi play important roles. Surprisingly, when he talked on the phone with his wife Paola, he didn’t ask about their children.
Interesting observations:
“When the young man failed to react adequately to his self-effacing superiority, the lawyer ceased to use the plural when addressing the two men.”
When Brunetti returns to his office on his way home after being released from the hospital, he assumed the position of a sick man. “Patta, in his ineffable way, displaying the tact and discretion that had for years endeared him to his colleagues, seeing Brunetti, stopped dead and demanded, ‘What’s wrong with you now?’”
“The boat pulled in and tied up, and the early crowd of tourists disembarked, going off in search of their Indonesian-made Burano lace and Chinese-made Murano glass, certain that, out here on a genuine Venetian island, they’d be sure to get the real thing. And at a better price.”
“It’s always the odd, unpredictable things that set us off....Grief lies inside us like a land mind: heavy footsteps will pass by it safely, while others, even those as light as air, will cause it to explode.”
“His thoughts slid away and he considered why teasing cripples was so much worse than hurting them. They were cripples because their bodies had been damaged in some way, not their dignity. Teasing attacked any pride that had managed to survive.”
My main complaint with Donna Leon’s book is her unnecessarily short chapter. Often two or three chapters are immediate continuations of the previous chapter. I usually take away one star for that. However, in this case I will not do this because the book is dedicated “For Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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LibraryThing member Dokfintong
Commissario Brunetti is burnt out and if he does not take a break and relax, either his health will be permanently damaged or he will explode and permanently damage his career. Fortunately a distant relative has a villa on an island not far from Venice where Brunetti can go to decompress. Yet even
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here death follows, and Brunetti's investigative skills are needed.

This is the twenty-sixth book in the series and, like its fellows, it is excellent. However, as I read the negative reviews on Amazon I must point out that it is a contemplative book, not a shoot-em-up, and the title could well have been "Pentimento".

I received a review copy of "Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery" by Donna Leon (Grove Atlantic) through
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LibraryThing member dianaleez
Brunetti goes on vacation in Donna Leon's 'Earthly Remains.' Well, it's not so much a vacation as a two-week medical leave away from the stress of work. And we all know before he sets foot on the train that a mystery will develop.

For those who have read Leon's last half dozen or so books, if I said
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that Brunetti will visit a beekeeper, what would you gauge to be the odds that the bees are dying of a mysterious ailment probably related to the environment and/or pollution? Right.

There's no escaping the stresses of modern life while reading Leon; her books are now centered on them.
And Brunetti's caught in a place and time that is out of joint.

(A reader's copy was provided by Netgalley.)
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LibraryThing member kimkimkim
I received an electronic copy and thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic.

I have read only one or two of Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti novels and after finishing Earthly Remains I wonder why. The writing is exactly as I would expect to hear the dialog spoken. The descriptions take you to the place and
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time as if you were an invisible participant. The story is challenging and believable.

Without giving up too much, Inspector Brunetti "falls on his sword" to save one of his officers from ruining an interview with a member of one of the city's more illustrious families. This leads to the Inspector taking a brief rest at a villa owned by one of his wife's relatives on an island in the Laguna. This is where the story really begins.
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LibraryThing member cyderry
Commissario Brunetti has a very unusual reaction during an interrogation and realizes that he needs a break from his stressful position at Questora. He accepts an opportunity to rest at a relatives villa on the laguna and spread the days rowing - not thinking not feeling.

When the man that he was
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rowing with turns up dead, Guido realizes that he must have answers to questions that he had failed to ask this man when he was alive.

I love all the book where Guido Brunetti is the central character trying to prevent or correct a social wrong. This was no different in bringing me a magnificent story.
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LibraryThing member tkcs
I liked this book very much until I turned a page and discovered that was the end. It was very abrupt and left many questions unanswered. I’d think that somehow my e-copy is missing the last couple of chapters, except that others have commented on the ending. I guess the author was under a
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deadline and couldn’t take the time to write an ending. Disappointing.
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LibraryThing member tututhefirst
A different take on Brunetti. In this episode, GUido is sent off to one of the outer islands to take a break from policing. His blood pressure is too high, he's depressed and he just needs to drop out. As usual, trouble follows and Leon weaves a beautiful picture of the outer lagoon, the
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encroaching environmental problems the area is experiencing, and Brunetti's impossible to overcome gallantry and goodness.
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LibraryThing member DrLed
Synopsis: Brunetti needs a break so he stays in a house on an island. He meets one of his father's best friends and goes rowing with him. After a particularly bad storm, the man is found drowned. Brunetti must decide if his death is accidental, suicide, or murder.
Review: I knew this had to end
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badly and it did. The story brings in the pollution of the lagoon by big business.
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LibraryThing member Obi2015
One of the very best of this series..Wonderfull setting, a beautiful island in the Venetian laguna.,full of apricot trees and flooded with brillant sunshine...Brunetti is spending some weeks in this idealistic scenery so he can escape from the stress of his job, but can he?
Good story,interesting
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characters and as mentioned before, a stunning environment..
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
Brunetti needs a break. When he acts impulsively on behalf of a colleague, he ends up at the hospital. The doctor prescribes two weeks off, renewable to a third. Paola knows the perfect place--in a family friend's home on an island in the laguna. Brunetti wants to row, and he discovers the
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caretaker once rowed with his father to win a championship. The caretaker takes him rowing as he sets out to take care of his bees. Much of the novel focuses on Brunetti's break, but when the caretaker doesn't return on a stormy night, concerns set it. Although ruled an accident, Brunetti automatically begins to investigate with the help of his colleagues. While it's light on mystery, it's strong on atmosphere. Ethical concerns, particularly relating to nature and the environment, are almost always a part of Leon's novels, and this one focuses more on that than the mystery. Fans of the series will enjoy it. Those seeking a stronger mystery element may be disappointed. I loved it, and David Colacci's narration always makes it better!
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
When an interview with a suspect threatens to get out of hand, Commissario Brunetti takes action to prevent a colleague from making a potentially career-ending mistake. Brunetti finds it difficult to extract himself from the chain of events he set in motion, and it results in a medical leave of
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absence from the Questura. He decides he wants to spend his days rowing on the laguna. One of Paola’s relatives owns a villa on one of the islands, and he accepts an offer to stay there. The caretaker, Davide Casati, turns out to be an old family friend, and he welcomes Guido’s companionship on the water. As the days pass, Davide opens up about the wildlife, and especially the bees he tends on various islands. He is alarmed when some of the bees die en masse, but his explanation is cryptic and unsatisfactory. Davide’s sudden death during a violent storm has Brunetti searching for answers.

After a couple of novels where justice actually prevails, Leon returns to her typical format where truth doesn’t lead to justice. Brunetti is driven by the pursuit of truth, but it seems to be getting harder for him to live with the failures of the justice system.
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LibraryThing member Dairyqueen84
Coming back to Commissario Brunetti is like coming back to an old friend. Now that I've been to Venice, I can picture where he is. This one ended on an ambiguous note. Hmm.
LibraryThing member quondame
Commissario Brunetti inadvertently gets himself medical leave and Paola bundles him off to an aunt's vacant villa on a nearby island. And it will surprise no one that after a few days the man he has associated with has gone missing and is found dead. It's the unhealthy environment.
LibraryThing member eyes.2c
Earthly remains—a cautionary tale!

A young girl has died in hospital. Antonio Ruggieri, aged Forty-two and a lawyer from an influential Venetian family, who gave the girl the pills, has come to the Questura for an interview. He’s slick, assured and speaks disrespectfully about the girl.
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assistant Pucetti is angered and makes a move he shouldn’t. Staging a heart attack to stop Pucetti brings about other problems that Brunetti hadn’t considered.
Brunetti takes time off and spends it out on the laguna at the end of Sant’Erasmo at a villa of Paola’s Aunt Costanza.
Caretaking the house is Davide Casati, a famous rower who rowed with Brunetti’s father. Casati takes Brunetti rowing and shows him his bees out beyond on the laguna. The bees are dying.
Not long after this Casati is found, in his boat dead presumably injured when caught in a storm
Brunetti investigates. Things are not as they seem, but where is the proof.
It seems to me Leon looks at the injustices perpetrated by the powerful and then continued by those who don’t look at the costs with this novel
A girl dies. Why?
Casati dies. Why?
Bees are dying. Why? This last very much defines the story as we look to the past, investigate the now and are fearful for the future!
A very different Brunetti tale. Brunetti is internalising things. He’s worn down and much given to philosophising about his beloved Vienna, the nature of man and consequences.
I found this Guido Brunetti story looks at who the the man is, and in doing so, we learn more bout our favourite Venetian commissario.

A Grove Atlantic ARC via NetGalley.
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LibraryThing member librarygeek33
I will compare the first half of this book to the film Ulee's Gold, complete with the bees = snooze. I suppose that is the point since inspector Brunetti is supposed to be relaxing. The second half picks up when a case to solve enters the picture. I made it to the end but I thought the author spent
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too long setting the stage. Venice is a main hallmark of this series so in that sense, I guess the book succeeds. Not one of the best for me.
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LibraryThing member sleahey
As a Brunetti fan, I was somewhat taken aback by the slower pace of this latest installment in the series. After a rash response during an interrogation (very funny!), Brunetti realizes that he needs a break from work and goes by himself to retreat to an island estate of a relative. While there he
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befriends a local man with whom he feels quite close in a short time due to their common passion for rowing. After Davide drowns, Brunetti determines to learn more about the man he knew for too short a time.
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LibraryThing member diana.hauser
Earthly Remains is written by Donna Leon. The title is #26 in Ms. Leon’s highly acclaimed Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery series.
The plot begins in an almost idyllic fashion with Guido taking some ‘time off’ from his police duties and spending time on an outer island community surrounded
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by the sea and nature. He wants to pursue rowing and reading and relaxing.
The ending is very different and very sad. Again, a puzzle, a mystery, is dissected and resolved - to a point - but justice and peace for the living is elusive.
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