I’m really not one for reading murder mysteries that delve into the mind of serial killers or detail the gore and pathology of the kill. I’m more of a Law and Order girl. I’ve always appreciated that the scene opens with a body and then there is the twists and turns of sleuthing but no further blood. The mayhem caused by a sociopathic mind is more than enough for me.
There is, however, a series of crime stories written by Donna Leon that I think are great reads. She is an American ex-patriate who has lived in Venice for thirty-years. The stories unfold in an Italian sort of way. Guido Brunetti is a police inspector who meanders through Venetian life and culture as he searches for puzzle pieces needed to solve the crime or in the case of her latest book, Drawing Conclusions, whether or not a crime was committed.
Brunetti works in a system that barely cranks along and must work around a boss who is embodied with all that is wrong there. He is a political hack who has few redeeming qualities and more often than not, is an impediment to the investigations. His indispensible administrator is a beautiful, smart woman (of course) who knows how to do the impossible in cutting red tape and gaining access to information in a way that Brunetti doesn’t want to ask about.
We learn about far reaching corruption, government incompetence, and social issues. In this particular book, there is domestic abuse, the negative feelings toward the influx of Chinese immigrants, and nursing home care.
Guido has a large appetite for life which includes his love of food. He interviews witnesses in places near cafes or trattorias so he can grab a coffee or glass of wine or better still a grappa, sandwich or pastry. He goes home for a family lunch that is a multi-course, rich meal, described in mouth-watering detail, prepared by his professor wife. They enjoy a meal that inevitably is accompanied by a good bottle of wine and take a rest before they go back to their work and their two children to school. If only….
My husband and I wait each year for the new book and I think we have read all twenty. In looking at the back flap, I saw a spectacular addition —Brunetti’s Cookbook! It is a book of recipes and stories about food. Perfecto!
So now, while we wait for Guido Brunetti’s next adventure, we can eat like him, savoring the food that makes Venice such a magical place.