A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon
Review: An old woman dying of a heart attack would normal not be of concern to the police. But a neighbor found the body, called the authorities, and Brunetti happened to be the most convenient officer to the woman's apartment. The cause of death is quite certain, yet Brunetti has his doubts and proceeds to look into the matter in Drawing Conclusions, the 20th mystery in this series by Donna Leon.
Brunetti's concerns are two-fold. Costanza Altavilla's son appears genuinely aggrieved by his mother's death, yet also seems relieved that the police are willing — at least initially — to believe she died of natural causes. Too, the place where the dead woman worked — a home for the aged — is run by Madre Rosa, a nun who, when speaking to Brunetti, says she is "more frugal with the truth than you are." Can it be she's hiding something that may lead one to conclude Signora Altavilla was murdered? Later Madre Rosa takes Brunetti into her confidence, but only up to a point: "It makes me believe that you are really interested in finding out if anything unpleasant — as you put it — might have been involved in Costanza's death. And since she was a friend, I am interested in that, as well."
The mysteries in this series are frequently multi-layered with well-conceived and developed plots, and Drawing Conclusions is no exception. The storyline, though, doesn't really start to take shape until about the midway point (not coincidentally about the same time as Madre Rosa's latter quote above, at which time Brunetti starts to learn significantly more about Signora Altavilla's complicated life). A lot of information relating to Brunetti's investigation is then presented over a relatively brief span, and that is slightly disappointing in and of itself. One tends to want to follow along with Brunetti's deductive reasoning process, but in stark contrast to the first 100 pages, which is arguably too slow with little of consequence occurring, the last 100 pages seem to proceed at light speed, with Brunetti in reactive rather than proactive mode. A little more balance in the pacing would likely have made this very good mystery an excellent one. The ending is, not unexpectedly, open-ended but that is also not atypical of the books in this series.
Acknowledgment: Grove/Atlantic provided an ARC of Drawing Conclusions for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Through a Glass, Darkly
Atlantic Monthly Press (Hardcover), May 2006
ISBN-13: 9780871139375; ISBN-10: 0871139375
Atlantic Monthly Press (Hardcover), April 2012
ISBN-13: 9780802120236; ISBN-10: 0802120237
Location(s) referenced in Drawing Conclusions: Venice, Italy
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Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon — A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: April 2011
List Price: $24.00