When a new Donna Leon novel featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti is released, it typically rises to the top of my 'to read' list. This series, now decades old, is easily among the best being written today. Any time spent within its pages is time well spent.
What sets these novels apart from other mystery/thriller fare are the deeply written characters and a depiction of modern Venice as a corrupt and troublesome place for the law to do their job. In The Golden Egg, the series takes a departure from its social commentary on the difficult Venetian landscape. The end result is a novel unlike any other in the series.
The Golden Egg of the title refers to a man (described as 'deaf and retarded') who is the victim of an apparently accidental overdose of pills. The man in question, Davide Cavanella, was a cipher, someone who was consistently underestimated and easily forgotten. Yet everyone in town knew who he was, and those neighbors closest to him carried strong opinions about his mother, Ana. Rumors circulate about his being abused as well as used by her for unknown profit.
Brunetti, spurred along by his wife, Paola, makes it his business to uncover the truth behind who Davide actually was. What he discovers will fill him with shame and points a finger at every member of society who allowed the mistreatment of one of their own to happen under their very noses.
The Golden Egg also forces readers to ask themselves—are we responsible for the well-being of our neighbor? Are we just as guilty of neglect if we are aware of an injustice and do nothing about it? Ripped from the pages of headlines that are all too frequently seen, this novel demands these questions be answered and that accountability be taken by all. An important and chilling read.