The Golden Egg
A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon
Review: The death of a deaf man, who worked at a local dry cleaners doing odd jobs, should not be of any concern to Commissario Guido Brunetti. A crime has not been committed — the man accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills — but though he was known to many in the neighborhood, no one seems to know much about him, in The Golden Egg, the 22nd mystery in this series by Donna Leon.
Davide Cavanella always seemed to fade into the background whenever anyone was around. He was known to be deaf and everyone assumed he was mute as well, as no one can recall ever hearing him speak. He wasn't so handicapped that he couldn't run errands for the owners of the dry cleaners, but that seemed to be the extent of his abilities. As there was nothing suspicious about his death, the police have closed the case, but when Brunetti asks to see the file, he's surprised by what little he finds. His own mother, who lived not far away, had little to do with him, even going so far as to deny having any official record of his birth. "What troubled [Brunetti] was not the circumstances of the man's death but the fact that he had managed to live for forty years without leaving any bureaucratic traces that he had lived at all. That mystery, and its sadness, nagged at Brunetti …"
Readers familiar with the books in this series already know that they often proceed at a measured pace … and with good reason, as Brunetti's investigations are usually intricately devised and the solutions typically cleverly revealed. But that is most certainly not the case here. The opening chapters move along at glacial speed, so slow that little of substance happens during the first half of The Golden Egg. And even after it's clear that Brunetti's attention is warranted, the storyline never really gains traction, and rather worse, never really generates much interest. That's more than a little unfortunate because the premise, in and of itself, is intriguing but isn't developed in such a way that it captures the reader's imagination in any meaningful way. And if all this weren't disappointing enough, there is an intrusive subplot — Brunetti's official case to which he has been assigned — involving merchant bribes and kickbacks that is little more than editorial filler, adding absolutely nothing of consequence to the (melodramatic) story of the life and death of Davide Cavanella.
Acknowledgment: Grove/Atlantic provided an eARC of The Golden Egg for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Atlantic Monthly Press (Hardcover), April 2012
ISBN-13: 9780802120236; ISBN-10: 0802120237
Location(s) referenced in The Golden Egg: Venice, Italy
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The Golden Egg by Donna Leon — A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $26.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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