Customer Review

75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sadder more wrathful Brunetti who considers the moral limits of authority, 7 April 2012
This review is from: Beastly Things: (Brunetti) (Hardcover)
"Beastly Things" is another well-written episode of the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, albeit one that seems even darker and more contemplative than usual. For me, this story transcended the crime genre into something more like an insightful, psychological novel.

We have to assume that author Donna Leon uses her wonderfully sketched protagonist, Brunetti, to voice her own concerns about social and political issues that plague his (and her) Italian home of Venice; and those concerns have multiplied over the years as traditional woes with corruption in politics have been added to by the plight of immigrants in Italy, the trafficking in women and children, rampant polluting and pollution and myriad other forms of criminal behavior that generally are based in the sins well-described by Leon's early predecessor Dante.

"Beastly Things" opens with the murder of a local veterinarian. The investigation that follows uncovers something far more sinister, something that threatens the population at large. This crime vs. general threat is deftly--even brilliantly--handled by Leon as she describes the reactions of bystanders to details of the two kinds of crime. To be sure the author's outrage, as expressed through Brunetti, is appropriately great and expanding as the case moves toward its resolution. Greed is at the bottom of all of it, and Brunetti is allowed some powerful feelings that cause him to cut ethical corners in order to punish the perpetrators.

Built into this novel--and a few others in the series--is the basic question of what measures can be taken by decent people of authority to combat pervasive corruption, venality and criminality that is protected or indulged by people of even higher authority. In "Beastly Things", the estimable Signorina Elletra is at the core of that question. Brunetti's formidable wife, Paolo, has a similar dilemma at the university where she teaches, which requires a weighing of the same question.

I think one the great things about the Brunetti series has been that continued personal growth of the protagonist as a human being--some of it coming from the normal aging process (assuming that age produces wisdom) and some of it coming from association with the secondary characters whom author Leon endows with credible and interesting personalities.

"Beastly Things" was one of those books that I liked even better after finishing, for its intelligent message of moral outrage, justice and redemption. It's one of the Brunetti books where there is very clear retribution at story's end, even if it comes with some moral compromises by the admirable commissario. Recommended. 4++
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Aug 2013 06:54:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Aug 2013 06:55:30 BDT
Susy says:
I like the way you describe things in this novel and how you try to explain them. This is the way I would assume the author wants us to see it! And I wish I could.

I am a Brunetti fan and I have read them all and loved most of them. But this is the most boring crime novel I have ever read! How can this book be called a best seller? I have sold my copy already. We know from the beginning what it might be all about and there is no surprise in this book.

I do not read Leon to learn what is right or wrong. I do not read her to watch a well educated policeman educate himself further. I read her to be entertained in a decent and - yes - relevant way. She does this very well most of the time but this time she has failed doing so. But then it is the 21st case - who can blame her. And the 22nd one offers some surprises and indicates that the author might know all these things herself.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2013 02:02:59 BDT
Dear Lollobridgida - Thanks so much for your feedback. Much as I like this series, I will admit that some stories have more zip and staying power than others. Don't give up on them though. Regards, Barry

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2013 09:48:26 BDT
Susy says:
thanks Barry. - Good to know there are Brunetti fans all over the world. Much love to you in Washington D.C.!

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2013 09:48:42 BDT
Susy says:
thanks Barry. - Good to know there are Brunetti fans all over the world. Much love to you in Washington D.C.!
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