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Extended Audio Sample Beastly Things, by Donna Leon Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (974 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Donna Leon Narrator: David Colacci Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries Release Date:
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When the body of man is found in a canal, damaged by the tides, carrying no wallet, and wearing only one shoe, Brunetti has little to work with. No local has filed a missing-person report, and no hotel guests have disappeared. Where was the crime scene? And how can Brunetti identify the man when he can’t show pictures of his face? 

The autopsy shows a way forward: it turns out the man was suffering from a rare, disfiguring disease. With Inspector Vianello, Brunetti canvasses shoe stores and winds up on the mainland in Mestre, outside of his usual sphere. From a shopkeeper, they learn that the man had a kindly way with animals. At the same time, animal rights and meat consumption are quickly becoming preoccupying issues at the Venice Questura and in Brunetti’s home, where conversation at family meals offers a window into the joys and conflicts of Italian life. Perhaps with the help of Signorina Elettra, Brunetti and Vianello can identify the man and understand why someone wanted him dead.

As subtle and engrossing as ever, Leon’s Beastly Things is immensely enjoyable, intriguing, and ultimately moving.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “As if Brunetti weren’t already steaming about the ‘mindless, atavistic greed’ motivating everything from the shabby practices of the banking industry to the irresponsible dredging of the Grand Canal, Leon hits him with a crime that really tries his soul…So he takes his pleasures where he can—at home with his family, in his favorite coffee bars and on long walks around Venice—but after this case, the city he loves will never be quite the same for him.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Leon hits [Brunetti] with a crime that really tries his soul…So he takes his pleasures where he can—at home with his family, in his favorite coffee bars and on long walks around Venice—but after this case, the city he loves will never be quite the same for him.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Beastly Things…doesn’t disappoint. All her trademark strengths shine in this swiftly paced, sophisticated tale of greed versus ethics.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Like Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1930s, Guido Brunetti has accumulated depth and subtlety book by book. In Beastly Things he learns, the hard way, unpleasant facts about the meat industry that have long since made vegetarians of his daughter and Inspector Vianello. Leon has never written a more powerful sequence than the chapter in Beastly Things where Brunetti and Vianello visit a busy slaughterhouse. …Set, as always, against the living background of Venice itself, and the family background that keeps Brunetti’s moral compass straight while letting him enjoy good food, wine, and loving support, Beastly Things is a quietly satisfying celebration of the series’s twenty-first birthday. Long may it continue.”

    New Republic

  • “Brunetti’s challenges make for scintillating reading.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “One of the most attractive serial detectives of contemporary fiction…The unravelling of this intricate plot is very satisfying, yet the real pleasure of this novel lies in its evocation of a city whose shimmering beauty is set against the encroaching predations of the Mafia; a city where proper jobs are so rare that most young adults live at home with their parents, studying or wasting time; a place where your only real safety comes from having, say, four Doges in your ancestry, or a father with such powerful influence that nobody dares cross him.”

    Independent (UK)

  • Selected for the April 2012 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Teresa | 2/4/2014

    " I alway like Donna Leon's Brunetti novels, in fact Guido Brunetti is one of my favorite mystery characters, but the chapter in the slaughter house is not for the squeamish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Scilla | 1/28/2014

    " Brunetti is assigned to the case of a man with Madelung's disease who has been stabbed and put into the canal. He first has to find out who the man is, which he does by tracing the man's shoe to Mestre. He gradually figures out about the life of the victim, Dottor Andrea Nava, a veterinarian. From there, he gradually discovers the killer. Signorina finds out a lot of background on the computer, and Vianello works with him most of the time, but it is Brunetti's insight into people which makes the difference. The story illustrates the dishonesty of politicians and the power of the rich and famous in Venice. I think Leon's books get better as the series go on. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Bonnie | 1/19/2014

    " I think I liked her earlier books better. She's made Brunetti's character more introspective and I found several translation errors. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Larraine | 1/17/2014

    " Comissario Guido Brunetti understands all too well the depth of corruption in the government of his native country. He is saddened by a culture that is whipped to a frenzy by the death of a pretty young girl while ignoring the more important issues. (Sound familiar?) When a veterinarian's body is found in a canal, Brunetti's investigation leads to a corrupt slaughterhouse that is allowing sick and diseased animals to be processed for meat. There are some uncomfortable scenes that may enforce vegetarian ideals. Brunetti learns that the dead man's job was to approve animals for slaughter and was uncomfortable with the number of animals that were approved. While he investigates, we learn that while Brunetti often despairs of the corruption he sees around him, he loves Venice and his family. His home is his refuge, a place where his wife lovingly prepares meals while they talk about her love of Henry James and his love of Marcus Aurelius. Donna Leon's writing is almost like a meditation - on crime, on life, on love. The mystery slowly unfolds while we learn more and more about Brunetti's personal and public life, not to mention Venice. This is not a book for people who don't have the patience to read a book that involves no car chases, blood or sex. I've been a huge fan of Donna Leon for a long time, and this book cements that even further. "

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