“The Waters of Eternal Youth” by New York Times bestselling author Donna Leon is the 25th in the Guido Brunetti mystery series featuring an intellectual and reflective commissario.
The story takes place in the rich setting of Venice and is again an incredible backdrop for another fascinating story with a “cold case” angle. The author develops an interesting story with atmosphere and characters who are richly portrayed. The recurring characters are not too bright: boss Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta who is generally manipulated by Brunetti, and Signorina Elettra, his secret weapon and a genius on the internet.
Her fictional hero takes the reader through the alleys, the many palazzos, piazzas, and cafes of Venice as he works his way around Venice and other nearby towns to solve the crime. Brunetti and his aristocratic wife, Paola, a professor of English literature, an ardent feminist, and a great chef, are older, and their children, Raffi and Chiara, are interesting young adults. The family lives in Calle Tiepolo in an apartment up five flights of stairs with views of the Grand Canal from the terrace.
Brunetti is investigating a cold case by request of the grand Contessa Demetriana Lando-Continui, a close friend of Brunetti’s mother-in-law, Contessa Falier. The Contessa is still convinced that there was foul play involved. In an accident 15 years ago, her granddaughter, Manuela, now 30, was found in a near-drowning state in a canal. She was saved by an alcoholic who pulled her out, but it was too late as she suffered brain damage that left her with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. Her life was never the same. The drunk claims he saw Manuela pushed into the canal by another man, but the next day, he could not remember anything.
Brunetti finds himself unable to let the case rest. As he and his fellow commissario, Claudia Griffoni, begin looking into Manuela’s life at the time of the incident, they uncover surprising connections and learn heart-breaking details about the Lando-Continui family that leads to a tangible crime.
As with other Brunetti novels by Donna Leon, this book depicts how Brunetti navigates the politics of his police department and the city as he works to solve a crime, while remaining very committed to his family.
Ms. Leon is an American writer who has lived in Venice for decades and spends time in Switzerland.