Recommended Murder Mystery Novel Set in Venice - Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

My recent reading has included Earthly Remains by Donna Leon. It is her latest novel and is set, like the many others that she has written, in Venice - where the erudite American writer lived for 30 years.

The book is the most recent in the Commissario Brunetti series of award-winning murder mysteries. The plot is intriguing and characterisation excellent, as one might anticipate from a writer of Ms Leon’s reputation. But there is a deeper level to the narrative, which will reward thoughtful reading. Motifs in Earthly Remains that gave me pause for thought are some of the many issues faced by Venice - the unsustainable level of tourism, the pollution in the lagoon, the delays to the barrage that would protect against flooding caused by acqua alta, the underfunded public social care, and corruption.

Many of us have an impression that Venice is a uniquely beautiful, romantic, cultural treasure. It’s all of those things and that is why people visit. But, most importantly, it is home to many families whose roots in the city can be traced back for many hundreds of years. Many citizens have retreated to the mainland, forced out by high property prices and the difficulties created by tourism and flooding.  Earthly Remains will give an insiders view and increased awareness of the problems facing the Venetians who steadfastly remain. I was forced to cancel my visit booked for June this year because of the coronavirus but I hope to make one last visit before too long. I will certainly look at this most beautiful and unique city differently than before I read Earthly Remains.

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