Reviews by L. J. Roberts

DONNA LEON – Fatal Remedies. Wm. Heinemann Ltd., UK, hardcover, 1999. Penguin, US, September 2007. Reprinted several times.

Genre:   Police procedural. Leading character:  Commissario Guido Brunetti; 8th in series. Setting:   Italy.

DONNA LEON Fatal Remedy

First Sentence:   The woman walked quietly into the empty campo.

   Commissario Guido Brunetti is in a difficult position. It is his job to uphold the law. However, his wife, Professor Paola Brunetti, wants to stop a local travel agency from
running sex tours for men. She demonstrates her cause by vandalizing the agency.

   With added pressure from above to solve a robbery and murder with possible Mafia connections, Brunetti is concerned both about his relationship with his wife and his career.

   A book that starts without a prologue but with an unexpected, intriguing opening will always capture my interest and Leon wrote a great first chapter with Fatal Remedies.

   But there are so many things to which I look forward, and enjoy, from Donna Leon. Her characters are wonderful. Brunetti has a very normal family with normal conflicts, even when they are demonstrated in not-so-normal ways.

   I appreciate Brunetti’s seeming pragmatism and understanding that his job is to uphold the law, which is not always just; and the police secretary, the wonderful, smart and enigmatic Signorina Elettra is endlessly fascinating, for Brunetti as well as for the reader.

   Leon creates a rich sense of place through sensory descriptions of sight, sound and particularly, smell. She also uses humor and introspection well… “There are days when I think everything’s getting worse, then there are days when I know they are. But then the sun comes out and I change my mind.”

   In spite of the light moments, Leon always reminds us that this is a true police procedural in which there is violence and tragedy. Well done, Ms. Leon.

Rating:   Very Good.

Bibliographic Note:   Scheduled for 2012 is number 22 in the series, Beastly Things. For a complete list, check out the Fantastic Fiction website.