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Beastly Things: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery [Hardcover]

Donna Leon
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 2012 Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries
When a body is found floating in a canal, strangely disfigured and with multiple stab wounds, Commissario Brunetti is called to investigate and is convinced he recognises the man from somewhere. However, with no identification except for the distinctive shoes the man was wearing, and no reports of people missing from the Venice area, the case cannot progress. Brunetti soon realises why he remembers the dead man, and asks Signorina Elettra if she can help him find footage of a farmers' protest the previous autumn. But what was his involvement with the protest, and what does it have to do with his murder? Acting on the fragile lead, Brunetti and Inspector Vianello set out to uncover the man's identity. Their investigation eventually takes them to a slaughterhouse on the mainland, where they discover the origin of the crime, and the world of blackmail and corruption that surrounds it. Both a gripping case and a harrowing exploration of the dark side of Italy's meat industry, Donna Leon's latest novel is a compelling addition to the Brunetti series. Andrew Sachs is well known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers. From a solid background in theatre, his work also covers TV, films and radio. His voice is often heard narrating documentaries and reading innumerable audiobooks. He has narrated several other Donna Leon titles.

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"The superb reader, Andrew Sachs, has become the voice of Brunetti: intelligent, thoughtful, weary and worldly wise. When the policeman relaxes at night, we can almost taste the cold Pinot Grigio that he sips on his balcony, and when he pays a visit to the sickening, stinking, blood-boltered horrors of the slaughterhouse, we are led right down into the seventh circle of Dante's Hell." -- Sue Gaisford The Independent on Sunday "A gripping narrative read by Andrew Sachs." Choice Magazine

About the Author

Donna Leon was named by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers. She is an award-winning crime novelist, celebrated for the bestselling Brunetti series. Donna has lived in Venice for thirty years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Donna's books have been translated into 35 languages and have been published around the world. Her previous novels featuring Commissario Brunetti have all been highly acclaimed; including Friends in High Places, which won the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, Fatal Remedies, Doctored Evidence, A Sea of Troubles and Beastly Things.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethical Dilemmas for Commissario Brunetti April 6 2012
By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Beastly Things" is, I believe, the 21st novel in Donna Leon's long-running Commissario Guido Brunetti series set in contemporary Venice. In this installment, the body of a man is pulled from an out-of-the-way canal, but he is found to have been stabbed to death, not drowned by accident. There is no clue as to his identity except that he seems to have a strange bodily malformation, a very swollen chest and neck. This fact leads Brunetti to the man's identity; he was a veterinarian who also worked as an inspector at a slaughterhouse, inspecting the live animals to be certain that they're healthy and then inspecting samples of the resulting meat to make sure it's not contaminated. All is not as it seems at the abbatoir, however, and soon Brunetti finds himself questioning the very food he eats.... As always, it is a delight to enter Leon's Venice - having never been there, I have no idea if it's an accurate representation, but I love the way Brunetti and his colleagues and family go about their lives in this enchanted place that is so very familiar to them. And Brunetti remains one of the most thoughtful, philosophical even, detectives in all of modern detective literature; he, and the other main characters, are so finely drawn and such real, complex human beings that one hopes to visit Venice one day and have a prosecco with them all. I am sad that I received this book yesterday (as I write this) and finished it today, even though I tried very hard to draw out the reading experience; it means another year or so before a new novel in the series arrives to delight me all over again. Reading this book just may make the reader consider becoming a vegetarian (which I am not - at present), be warned that there are some graphic scenes of the work inside an abbatoir. Aside from that squeamishness, this book is highly, highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
"So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners." -- Proverbs 1:19 (NKJV)

Unlike many mystery writers, Donna Leon seems to be getting better and better in this series. Her glimpses behind the tourist sites into the venality of Venice reach a new height in Beastly Things. Do be prepared for ugliness of the sort that even crime novels don't often reach . . . that may upset you, her purpose, I'm sure.

Commissario Guido Brunetti leads a murder investigation into a dead man with an unusual disease who is found in the canals. It takes awhile to establish his identity, and the plot picks up steam from there. The ugliness connects to how human weakness leads to evil doing, even by the police as Brunetti and Vianello grow ever too comfortable with Signorina Elletra's illegal electronic ways. Perhaps no Brunetti novel better captures the moral message of what sin does to the perpetrators . . . and to those who come into contact with them.

What I liked best was the way Ms. Leon captured the venality of what crime often amounts to, a greedy desire to have more regardless of the consequences. If you have a queasy stomach, be prepared for a powerfully written description of what happens in some slaughterhouses. You may find yourself eating more vegetables.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book April 21 2012
Excellent book. Worth reading. I really like this series.

If you are a sensitive person just be advised that there is a scene describing how farm animals are slaughtered but you can skipped that scene and not worry about missing anything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Justice is served, ethical examined May 3 2012
By L. J. Roberts TOP 100 REVIEWER
First Sentence: A man lay still, as still as a piece of meat on a slab, as still as death itself.

It starts with a body found in a canal; stabbed to death, no wallet and wearing only one shoe. His physical structure should make him fairly easy to identify, and does. A man who loves animals and is separated from his wife who seems not to particularly care that her husband is dead. But it is the man's secondary profession which raises questions, not only about the murder, but about the politics and ethics of being Italian.

Let's start with the fact that I love the map on the inside covers. Maps are wonderful things. They accentuate the sense of place and allow you to 'walk' with the characters.

Now let's talk about Leon and how wonderful is her style and voice. 'If a man who always lies tells someone he is a liar, is he telling the truth? If no one is alive in a room, is the room empty?' it is not only Leon's narrative that is compelling, but her dialogue, which has a natural flow and intelligence particularly, in this book between Brunetti and Signorina Elettra, one of the most intriguing character currently being written. Brunetti is a true Venetian. He loves his city, his family and his food. He doesn't understand how people can stand living where they need cars. He recognizes the pervasive dishonesty in the ways things are done, even in himself.

Usually, the descriptions of food usually leave the reader hungry. However, in this book rather than compelling you to the kitchen, it could forever change what you eat. There is an extensive scene which may leave readers extremely uncomfortable, however, it is factual and shows how easily greed can dominate ethics.

The story is, as always, extremely well written.
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