Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Waters of Eternal Youth / Donna Leon

Donna Leon is back in the saddle.  Almost literally.  I've been a fan of hers for twenty years, but her last few haven't been very satisfying.  I admit that I like reading about Commissario Brunetti's home life, about the food Paola cooks, the books they read, and it seemed to me that there has been less of that lately.  Some of the books also had incomplete endings.  As a mystery reader, I like resolution at the end of a book.  But this one was good, I read it in two days.  I could barely put it down.

A friend of Paola's mother, an elderly contessa, asks Brunetti to look into a 15-year-old incident.  Her granddaughter fell / was pushed / was thrown into a canal when she was 15.  It was unlikely an accident because she was terrified of water after almost drowning as a child.  A drunk man jumped in and pulled her out, but when she awoke from a coma, it was clear that she was brain damaged.  Her brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long.

The contessa is wondering if she had been the cause of the incident, or if she could have done something to prevent it.  The girl, Manuela, had been different in the months before the accident, withdrawn.  She had been a devoted horseback rider and her grandmother had refused to pay for her horse's board because Manuela's mother only spent the money on drugs and alcohol and then asked her ex-husband, Manuela's father, for more.  Could Manuela have tried to commit suicide?  The contessa would like to know if she's at fault before she dies.

There isn't much to go on, but Brunetti and Commissario Griffoni, with help from the amazing Signorina Elettra, find connections between the old accident and a recent murder, the murder of the man who pulled Manuela from the canal.

The ending is satisfying and I enjoyed the book very much.  Thank you, Donna Leon!


  1. Should her books be read in order, or does it not matter? Would it be fine to start with this one?

    1. I don't think these books need to be read in order. The only real progression is that Brunetti's and Paola's children grow up, but that's not enough reason to read them in order. I think you could definitely start with this one.