Give unto Others By Donna Leon
Book/Novel Author: Donna Leon
Book/Novel Title: Give unto Others
Brunetti is forced to confront the price of loyalty, to his past and in his work, as a seemingly innocent request leads him into troubling waters.What role can or should loyalty play in the life of a police inspector? It’s a question Commissario Guido Brunetti must face and ultimately answer in Give Unto Others, Donna Leon’s splendid 31st installment of her acclaimed Venetian crime series.Brunetti is approached for a favor by Elisabetta Foscarini, a woman he knows casually, but her mother was good to Brunetti’s mother, so he feels obliged to at least look into the matter privately, and not as official police business. Foscarini’s son-in-law, Enrico Fenzo, has alarmed his wife (her daughter) by confessing their family might be in danger because of something he’s involved with. Since Fenzo is an accountant, Brunetti logically suspects the cause of danger is related to the finances of a client. Yet his clients seem benign: an optician, a restaurateur, a charity established by his father-in-law. However, when his friend’s daughter’s place of work is vandalized, Brunetti asks his own favors—that his colleagues Claudia Griffoni, Lorenzo Vianello, and Signorina Elettra Zorzi assist his private investigation, which soon enough turns official as they uncover the dark and Janus-faced nature of a venerable Italian institution.Exploring the wobbly line between the criminal and non-criminal, revealing previously untold elements of Brunetti’s past, Give Unto Others shows that the price of reciprocity can be steep.
The author captures Italian culture wonderfully. main characters are fully developed, plots always have substance, irony, love, and explore human characteristics with sensitivity.
I’m a huge Donna Leon fan and have read all her books. When visiting Venice, I was thrilled to recognize the Questora from the water on the way to the train station. As others have commented, the last couple of books have been less intriguing than others. Of course, it was wonderful to meet the usual suspects, but in this one, not enough about the family. Specifically, not enough about what’s for dinner or lunch! The plot itself was interesting to me as I had just visited a friend who is alienated from her sister and niece. Her comment was, “You have to abandon everyone else in your life to prove you love her.” Yep.
A very different and very interesting story.I have read and liked many Commissary Brunette books and was never disappointed. This one is more personal to Brunetti.I like and enjoy all the characters in the story. I love Donna Leon’s analysis of each character. I thought Elizabetta was very interesting
The year was 1993 and on a visit to Ansbach, (West) Germany, in yet another literary conversation with learned colleagues, we were introduced to Donna Leon. “You will love this author,” Emily Van Sweden stated, lending me the first book in the series (“Death at La Fenice”). “The setting is in Venice and the central character is quite smart, is good at solving mysteries, loves to eat well, and knows the best places to travel, when he has time. She also taught with the in Aviano and Vicenza (Italy) with the U.S. military’s education centers there.” And for 31 novels, Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti (and his family and associates) have captured our attention. In No. 31,”Give Unto Others,” Ms Leon doesn’t disappoint. “Her latest book is a captivating story in the Brunetti series,” writes Marvin Lyle (of our Oklahoma City literary and art bureau). “One can live vicariously through Guido as he ambles through Venice investigating his newest mystery. Thoroughly enjoyable and I found it hard to put the book down until the end. I look forward to next year’s mystery.” In Venice, Covid 19 has not gone unnoticed and its affects hover throughout the book. Social protocols, fewer tourists, lower crime rates, and a general subdued atmosphere permeates La Serenissima, as it has throughout the world. Brunetti is confronted by a long time acquaintance (from his childhood) who has sought him out to help with a personal matter. She is fearful that her daughter is in danger from her husband—the friend has come to Brunetti “as a friend and not as the police.” Brunetti says he will look into it. Of course, from this point on, the “inquiry” starts to multiply in events that are of great concern. The snowball effect swiftly takes over and Brunetti expands his inquiry/investigation to include some of his co-workers, all working as volunteers. Once again, Brunetti relies upon the clever Signorina Elletra, co-worker Claudia Griffoni, and his very intelligent wife Paola. This time there is no murder to solve—but other issues are at the front. Ms Leon’s books always carry—and triumph—certain socially significant issues that are connected to the murders to be investigated. In this one, it’s more about fraudulent international charities and charity work and the financial temptations therein. In another touching story line, one of the characters is well into Alsheiimers and Ms Leon’s sensitive approach is more than a little touching, as Gazette readers know of friends or family members who have suffered. “I love reading Donna Leon because it feels like I’m walking through Venice,” notes Nancy Van Sweden of our Grand Rapids, Mich., literary, travel, and gourmet bureau. “Give Unto Others” is not “just another Donna Leon novel,” but an extension of her literary talents, which have not diminished in all 31 of this series. Long may she wave (and write).
Commissario Guido Brunetti is approached at work by a woman he had known as a youngster when their families were neighbours; the woman is concerned about her daughter, whose husband had been acting strangely and perhaps violently toward her, but she does not want a formal police investigation. Because the woman’s mother had been kind to his own mother decades ago, Brunetti agrees to look into the matter privately, although he brings in a few of his colleagues who can check certain things better than he alone could. As troubling information comes to light, Brunetti must decide how to handle the case while protecting himself and his colleagues from charges of illegally using police resources…. The thing about Donna Leon’s Brunetti books is not the particular case or cases he might be working on (although those are all fairly plotted and interesting), but rather the philosophical cast of mind of our main character, who reads classical Latin treatises for fun and whose depth and breadth of understanding of the inner workings for Venetian society is matched by his curiosity toward and caring for the human condition in all its vagaries and faults. “Give Unto Others” is the 31st book in this long-lived series, and we actually learn quite a bit about Brunetti’s past for once; I’m not sure I ever even knew he had a brother, for example! Very highly recommended – but really, start with “Death at La Fenice” and carry on through the series consecutively, it’s really the best way to approach this series.
I’m a long time fan of Donna Leon’s books and have devoured all of them. This one is the best! It’s very current – and in some ways put The commissario to more of a test than he usually faces. Loved it!