I’ve been to Itlay once on a wonderful garden club tour in Tuscany. To this day I revisit it again and again in my memories. I’ve researched and used both Lucca and Pienza for locations in my second novel, Facing East. The tour did not include Venice, but I’ve spent hours there now through the mystery novels of Donna Leon. Over time I have come to consider the intelligent and capable Police Commissioner, Guido Brunetti as one of my most interesting and likable friends who waits for me on the pages of Leon’s books. Brunetti and the ensemble of characters never fail to deliver a satisfying mystery that I find addictive. Each case reveals another facet of Venetian life. Brunetti reports to a self-serving Vice-Questore Patta, while inspector Vianello is at his side helping to solve the crimes. There is the all-knowing and well-connected Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary, who provides endless information she should or should not be looking into on her computer.
I just finished The Waters of Eternal Youth, the 25th in the series published in 2016. Brunetti finds himself drawn into a case that may not be a case at all. Fifteen years ago, a teenage girl fell into a canal late at night. Unable to swim, only surviving thanks to a nearby man, an alcoholic, who heard her splashes and pulled her out, though not before she suffered irreparable brain damage that left her in a state of permanent childhood. The drunk man claimed he saw her thrown into the canal by another man, but the following day he couldn’t remember a thing.
Brunetti is unable to let the case rest. Awash in the rhythms and concerns of contemporary Venetian life, from historical preservation to housing, to new waves of African migrants, and the haunting story of a woman trapped in a damaged perpetual childhood, The Waters of Eternal Youth is another wonderful addition to this series. I always recommend you start at the beginning of a series to enjoy the changes and accruing knowledge of the characters. You can read them independently. I highly recommend this Donna Leon series to you and look forward to those I haven’t read YET. Happy Summer Reading!