50) Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon
Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti series is one of the most enjoyable and long-running set of crime novels, as satisfying as they are well-written. Someone in sunny Acton is donating a few Donna Leon’s to the community bookshelf, and this is the latest one I picked up on the way to work.
It strikes out from some of the others that I’ve read in that Paola (Brunetti’s wife) is really at the centre of the novel, at least the first half, and her character is the dominant one throughout really. This is great, as she’s always been an entertaining and intelligent presence in the other books, and now fully gets her role on centre stage – as she undertakes acts of vandalism powered by her personal sense of injustice. Unfortunately, someone connected to the vandalism is then murdered and the story spirals outwards from there.
Brunetti and his wife are a real joy to spend time with as a reader – he’s always stopping in somewhere for a coffee and a pastry, or navigating town via favourite restaurants and bars. And, rarely for a police detective in a crime novel, his domestic life and main relationship feel real. Leon is also adept at the wrong-footing plot device, and there’s a great one here in the side-plot of a witness testifying against the Mafia. I have another couple of these on the bookshelf, and know already that I’ll be in safely entertaining hands.