26 May 2016

Review: THE WATERS OF ETERNAL YOUTH, Donna Leon

  • this edition published 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-8021-2480-7
  • 292 pages
  • #25 in the Brunetti series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In The Waters of Eternal Youth, the twenty-fifth instalment in the bestselling Brunetti series, our Commissario finds himself drawn into a case that may not be a crime at all. Brunetti is investigating a cold case by request of the grand Contessa Lando-Continui, a friend of Brunetti's mother-in-law.

Fifteen years ago the Contessa's teenage granddaughter, Manuela, was found drowning in a canal. She was rescued from the canal at the last moment, but in many ways it was too late; she suffered severe brain damage and her life was never the same again.

Once a passionate horse rider, Manuela, now aged thirty, cannot remember the accident, or her beloved horse, and lives trapped in an eternal youth. The Contessa, unconvinced that this was an accident, implores Brunetti to find the culprit she believes was responsible for ruining Manuela's life. Out of a mixture of curiosity, pity and a willingness to fulfil the wishes of a loving grandmother, Brunetti reopens the case. But once he starts to investigate, Brunetti finds a murky past and a dark story at its heart.

The Waters of Eternal Youth is awash in the rhythms and concerns of contemporary Venetian life, from historical preservation, to housing, to new waves of African migrants, all circling the haunting story of a woman trapped in a perpetual childhood.

My Take

Donna Leon is another one of those authors who will always have a place on my reading lists. Sadly I don't always manage to keep up with her virtually annual publications.

At first glance THE WATERS OF ETERNAL YOUTH appears to be a departure from usual Brunetti cases, in that the initial case that Brunetti investigates is a cold case. He does it as a favour to a friend of his mother-in-law who wants to be reassured that she has done all that she can to find out what happened to her granddaughter who was nearly drowned 15 years earlier.

The title has ironic overtones but I'll leave you to work that out for yourself. Brunetti's investigation gets official sanction when he slyly suggests to Vice-Questore Patta that some social doors will open for his wife as a result.

However Brunetti sets a ball rolling when he contacts the man who rescued Manuela from the canal 15 years earlier. Brunetti also discovers that there were elements in the original medical report that should have sparked further investigation. There is a murder with just enough DNA evidence  to identify the murderer if the police could establish a match, but there is no-one on their records. Identification of the culprit comes from a chance meeting, but there were a couple of coincidences that the author let slip which enabled me to identify the murderer one step ahead of Brunetti.

And in the background? Some references to Venice's current problems. A satisfying read.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
ABOUT FACE
THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
4.4, A QUESTION OF BELIEF
4.5, BEASTLY THINGS
4.4, QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP
3.9, THE JEWELS OF PARADISE
4.8, DRAWING CONCLUSIONS
4.6, DEATH IN A STRANGE COUNTRY
4.7, BY ITS COVER
4.5, THE GOLDEN GOOSE





1 comment:

Kathy D. said...

I've read all of the Guido Brunetti books, and thought that this one, the 25th, is stellar. It's not easy to keep a series interesting for that many books, but Donna Leon has done it.
And this is a particularly good book.

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