Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

The Golden Egg by Donna Leon is the 22nd book in the Commissario Brunetti series based in Venice. It's Autumn in Venice, Poala, Brunetti's wife, informs him that the boy working in the laundry place is dead, she wants him to find out more about the boy. The boy is not a boy but a man who is deaf and mute probably with some mental problem. Poala feels bad that she doesn't even know his name though she has seen him for a long time. Brunetti starts looking for information initially to soften the guilty conscience of his wife. There are things about this issue that hold his attention. There are no papers like Birth Certificate or anything to identify the man. The mother claims that they were lost during transit. Is it possible to live in this modern world without any identification papers? As one of the characters in the book points out that there are forms to be filled from prenatal stage. How come this person has no identification? There should be birth certificate, medical records, school certificates, driving license, Passport, disability records, as this person is disabled, especially to get a disability allowance. How can one escape notice of the system completely? More and more Brunetti looks more and more he feels that there is something that many people know, but are not open about it. What is it? 

Brunetti's subordinates glean information by feigning a connection with the person. Brunetti couldn't help feeling that his department is nurturing vipers. When you work with people there is a need to have a connection with them, some kind of empathy to get the information essential to solve a case. I couldn't help wondering why this empathy should be fake, couldn't  it be natural? Leon brings in adeptly that it takes two to tango. 

The story game the Brunetti family plays in the beginning is clever and fun. Leon makes an interesting observation about how the dialects separate the people instead of the language bringing them together. I also like the other observations Donna Leon makes. Like the receptionists in the hospital, who wouldn't let you in, without checking your identification, even if it is urgent. Even if he probably knows who you are. Well, as Brunetti remembers his wife's words, this is the only way that person feels powerful, just go along with him. Donna Leon cleverly brings in the theme of her novel throughout without giving away the final shock. Yes, what came in the end came as a shock to me, something we read and see in News and wonder, how did this happen, why didn't anybody do anything about it, kind of shocking news. 


JC Jones said...

I love this series and reviewed this several days ago. I came by to see what you had to say. The ending was a shock. I did not see it coming even with the title.

srivalli said...

I did not see it coming too! Thanks JC Jones for stopping by!