In the book Earthly Remains, mystery writer Donna Leon wanted to get her hero off the crowded city island of Venice and onto another island in the Venetian lagoon. He could not just go on a vacation—that would involve taking his family. He must go alone. She could send him away for a “rest cure.” But how? One of his officers is about to commit mayhem upon a truly despicable suspect, during a police interrogation. To prevent this, Commissario Guido Brunetti stands up abruptly and fakes a heart attack.
Brunetti is packed off to the island of Sant’Erasmo in the laguna for a couple of weeks. Row around in a boat all day, and read books all night, in a relative’s villa. What could be healthier? What could be simpler? What could possibly go wrong?
Now, Davide Casati is the caretaker of the villa, and a champion rower. He is also a man with a past, and he is worried about the current pollution of the lagoon. Long ago, there was a job in a factory, which ended in a fire and an explosion. Later, Casati’s wife died of a rare cancer. What does this have to do with the environment and the state of health of Casati’s hives of bees? How can a simple caretaker on an agricultural island have enemies? What did he do? What does he know? How far would someone go for this man’s silence?
On page 87, the past surfaces. His oar hit something submerged in the water and he pitched forward… “What did I hit?” Brunetti asked in what he struggled to sound like a normal voice. Casati…muttered something that…sounded like “My past.”
Once again, Donna Leon makes you care about the people in her book. You don’t know some of them well, or for long, but they are outlined so well that you believe in them. You care about how Casati’s grown daughter is worrying. You get exasperated with the way suspects will not answer questions. Leon makes her people real. When Brunetti and a captain fall into the lagoon, trying to retrieve a body, you believe it. When they walk into the hospital, with the lagoon’s polluted water still squishing out of their shoes, you can hear it and smell it.
Follow the twists and turns of the rope, I mean, the plot, and borrow Earthly Remains from Adult Services in the Pine Bush Area Public Library. And wear a life vest, in case you fall out of that boat.
You must be logged in to post a comment.