Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Donna Leon, Earthly Remains

This is the 26th novel of crime writer Donna Leon, who sets her books in Venice, where she lived for decades. Let's cut to the chase: it's very good. It came out a couple of months ago, and I usually obtain books from the library or Overdrive (e-books through library). But when I heard it was set on the island of Sant'Erasmo, I had to have it right away. Sant'Erasmo (below) is a really big but sparsely populated island near Venice, known for its vegetables and dear to my heart, as most of the islands near Venice are. So I shelled out sixteen something and got it on Kindle through the diabolical invention of one-click ordering on Amazon. It was worth it.

Our police inspector Brunetti is packed off to said island for r and r. He goes alone and meets an interesting old man with whom he rows around the lagoon and talks. Sounds boring but is not. Complications ensue, involving widespread pollution, corruption, and bees dying off. The peeps are interesting, and Leon shows that she has perfected her wry (she would call it bleak) view of human nature. There are more or less sympathetic characters, but she is masterful here in showing the ambiguity and difficulty of moral action across the board. A sort of philosophical-ecological tale with plenty of local color (literally, in the case of Burano, also featured along with Sant'Erasmo).

Highly recommended.