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Trace Elements

(Commissario Brunetti #29)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,500 ratings  ·  459 reviews
When Dottoressa Donato calls the Questura to report that a dying patient at the hospice Fatebenefratelli wants to speak to the police, Commissario Guido Brunetti and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, waste no time in responding.

“They killed him. It was bad money. I told him no,” Benedetta Toso gasps the words about her recently-deceased husband, Vittorio Fadalto. Even thoug
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Anne Good question! The thread of the two Roma girls seems to peter out - rather unsatisfactorily. I suppose we are meant to guess Lieutenant Scarpa is inv…moreGood question! The thread of the two Roma girls seems to peter out - rather unsatisfactorily. I suppose we are meant to guess Lieutenant Scarpa is involved, but Brunetti decides not to follow up on the photos. It may be said to comment on the theme of justice that Brunetti is grappling with in the novel.(less)

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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Start your review of Trace Elements (Comissario Guido Brunetti #29)
Andrew Smith
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
In her 29th book featuring Guido Brunetti, Commissario of police in Venice, Donna Leon has once again provided a storyline in which for the most part it’s not actually certain that a crime has been committed. Brunetti and his colleague Claudio Griffoni are asked to attend the hospice bedside of a 38-year-old woman, Benedetta Toso, who is suffering from cancer. Not only is she certain to die soon but her husband, Vittorio, was just recently killed when his motorcycle went off the road and he drow ...more
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Trace Elements is the 29th book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series. Brunetti investigates crimes in his beloved city of Venice. Sometimes these offenses are particular to this beautiful city, and sometimes they are universal, but they always contain the flavor of Venice. Where else can you take a boat to the airport? They are all well-written with sharp dialogue and references to Ventian landmarks.
The crime in Trace Elements is one that could be committed anywhere. Without giving spoile
Lynn Horton
(Please note that there is a little spoiler in here, but anyone with half a brain could figure it out.)

It pains me, but Trace Elements barely ekes out a three-star rating from me.

Let me start with the positive. Leon is a professional novelist. Her writing is crisp and clear. Her body of work is rather vast, and her pacing is good. In my opinion, NO ONE evokes Venice better than Leon. Her descriptions are spot-on, her love for the city (which I immensely enjoy during the off-season) is obvious.

Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars) Donna Leon and her literary creation Commissario Guido Brunetti love Venice. But they don't look at that beautiful and historic city and the country of Italy itself with rose-colored glasses. No, in this, Leon's 29th in her detective series, you can see how problems, both internal to Venice and global ones also, are getting Leon, and hence Brunetti, a little down.

Mass tourism, with its resulting crisis of overcrowding, pollution, and overall major inconvenience to the locals, rising
A quandary for Brunetti!

Two seemingly simple cases that had no connection. A couple of Roma girls have pick pocketed the wife of a powerful person who wants them out of Venice in case further enquiries open up something they don't want exposed.
A dying woman who has something to confess to the police.
As investigations unfold, both cases are a minefield of complexities for Commissari Guido Brunetti and Claudia Griffoni. As always they are ably assisted by the highly efficient Signorina Elettra, w
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think Donna Leon is running out of fresh ideas - perhaps not surprisingly after 29 novels in this series. I found the continual complaints about tourism in Venice all too familiar (maybe she will write something different now about the summer of 2020 when no-one is visiting and the canals are running clean.) Over recent novels she has chosen themes that show the corruption or mismanagement in Italian politics and business and I felt this was also becoming predictable. (In this book the issue i ...more
Julie Stielstra
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-crime
...and that's a "barely okay." Signorina Leon seems to be losing steam, I'm afraid. After 28 Brunetti mysteries, this one feels plodding and pedestrian, in both senses of the word. The first 100 pages are a slog: it's hot in Venice. Everyone is sweating. Brunetti and colleague Griffoni watch a canal being dredged. A dying woman manages to gasp that her husband has been killed for "bad money." Brunetti's contemptible boss Patta is fussed because some pickpockets have been busy, and he has air con ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As per usual in her latest novels Donna Leon uses her books to comment on social, political or, in this case, environmental matters. Also, there's a subplot about pickpocket minors and the police inability to deal with them. Although a crime novel, the crime itself is secondary. In fact, it's not even clear if a murder has been committed, becoming almost incidental, but the story is no less entertaining because of it. At the end, Brunetti is presented with a moral dilemma, and although the endin ...more
2,5 Stars

This book is like the way people move in the hot summer sun in Venice: leisurely. It starts with the case (that I only recognized as a 'case' because it is mentioned in the blurb) but then it takes Brunetti a third of the book - which equals one day - before he picks up his inquiries.

In between there are young pickpocketing girls mentioned (I had no clue why that was in there in the first place) and detailled description of every step Brunetti takes, every move he makes, every snack he
First Sentence: A man and a woman deep in conversation approached the steps of Pone dei Lustraferi, both looking hot and uncomfortable on this late July afternoon.

Benedetta Toso, a dying hospice patient who asks to speak with the police, claims her husband, Vittorio Fadalto, was murdered over “bad money.” Commissario Brunetti and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, promise to investigate the matter, but was it murder or an accident? Suspicions mount as they learn more about Vittorio's job collectin
Brunetti receives an unusual request: a woman in hospice requests a visit from the police. He and Claudia Griffoni meet with the young woman, who is not only dying but also has just lost her husband. They investigate the circumstances surrounding his death, and as in may of Leon's other novels, we learn of corruption in Venice. It is wonderful to revisit these favorite characters again, even if it does get depressing to hear about all of the corruption in Brunetti's beautiful city. Thanks to the ...more Mystery & Thriller
If you have never read one of Donna Leon’s marvelous Guido Brunetti mysteries, don’t let the unfamiliar locale and culture --- Venice --- or the fact that the newly published TRACE ELEMENTS is the 29th installment in the series dissuade you. These novels are written so that one can pick them up in any order at any time without missing a beat. As for the culture of Venice, there are elements of it that remain a mystery to all, including the Venetians themselves. Commissario Brunetti of the Veneti ...more
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series is definitely not your typical police procedural. Brunetti is a quiet intellectual policeman who loves his city and his family. He is also practical enough to understand that policing in Venice also involves a lot of politics. He understand that everytime he has to deal with his superior, Patta. This time though, the story focuses on a dying woman in a hospice who asked to speak to the police. She proceeded to tell Brunetti and his colleague, Commissario ...more
I have read all 29 of these compelling Venetian mysteries, but now they only make me sad. Her vivid portrayals of the beauty and enchantment of Venice and the corruption of its system of justice were usually leavened by the richness of Brunetti's life with his professor wife and their lively and engaging children, their devotion to food and to family, and his work relationships, both rewarding and terrifying. This one, however, has little of that and much of corruption and destruction. ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A 3.5 rounded up to 4. I enjoyed this latest Donna Leon & am now worrying about how Brunetti and the other characters are faring in the Venice of the moment.

The plot in this is fairly simple, involving a pay off for tampering with chemical samples from water pollution checks. But it spins in several different directions (the story line with the young pickpockets never seems to integrate with the main plot) and is resolved in a morally ambiguous way that still has me thinking about it . But the
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Having enjoyed Leon's early novels, I picked up her latest one - and was very disappointed. The pace is excruciatingly slow, the plot runs thin and I found the ending most dissatisfying.

I suppose this is just another great series that has gone downhill unfortunately.
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
No, I did not like the end result. However, Donna Leon remains true to her characters, so who am I to argue? This is my 29th in this series and I will hope for more.
Brunetti works with southerner Claudia Griffoni in a decidedly hot July time period on a crime investigation that starts with a visit to a hospice to interview a dying woman. I would say that the weather is so often and well described that it serves as one of the main characters.
Naturally, Patta's secretary Elettra makes her own cont
Susan Johnson
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This book should dissuade anyone from visiting Venice especially in the summer. An extraordinary amount of time is spent complaining about the tourists and the trouble they cause. The heat of the summer is explored in great length. Frankly, the tourist board of Venice should hide all copies of this book because I have never felt so unwelcomed.

This deals with environmental concerns particularly the water which is quite important to Venice. It takes about half of the book to even discover that a
Mick Dubois
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, italy
Shame on me but it was about 10 years ago that financial misery stopped me from keeping up my collection of ‘Brunetti novels’ as I called them. This was a more than a pleasant reunion. He’s older and his children are almost grown up now but they still live at home. Signorina Elettra, one of my favourite characters is also still on her post as vice-questore Patta’s secretary. And is there some romance lurking in the shadows for her? Patta’s petty politics interfere once again with the proper poli ...more
Janeadams Adams
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
If you've ever considered a vacation in Venice in mid-summer, the newest Donna Leon procedural will dissuade you. The weather is so hot even Guido Brunetti, Leon' s affable, literate, reflective police detective, can't stop thinking, feeling ,and describing it; it; in fact, the heat and humidity are practically characters in this unusually slow and torpid novel. The case involves a dying woman's last declarations about the death if her husband, a chemist with the largest water distributor in the ...more
Cathy Beyers
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maybe not quite as good as her best Brunetti novels, but it was still a pleasure to read. Donna Leon knows how to weave some very worrying topics into the story, such as the quality of the water we drink and the effect of mass tourism on the local living environment and the air. Even more so, though, through Brunetti she raises the reader's awareness of the decisions that have to be taken when it comes to punishing criminals. Deciding who to punish and who to ignore for the greater good of socie ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not her usual ‘page turner.’ Something happened in the writing of this book. I never picked up momentum with the story. Certainly, if I had not read the earlier books I would have been lost with the characters as they pop in and out. Leon’s editors should have done better on this one.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up for the reality, immense Italian "eyes" of this one. But saying that, it was not as fun or as joyful a Brunetti as "the usual".

"based almost entirely upon gossip and insinuation, those Venetian twins of truth."

That's a core of this work place (Brunetti's and a state water facility he meets in investigation) study. Both work places and the people whose lives they have impacted in an "accident" or "murder".

It's summer and the humid, crowd churning walks are Venice and Donna L
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just before dying, a woman tells Brunetti and Comisario Griffoni that her late husband came across some bad money, and that's why "they" killed him. They promise to investigate and that leads to uncovering some grave things about water and how the contamination is supposed to be contained.

This is the 29th installment in the Guido Brunetti series and I'm glad to see Donna Leon is giving more space to Comissario Griffoni because she is a very interesting character. I missed having more of Paola an
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This is the 29th Brunetti novel. As with all of her previous novels Donna Leon not only gives us a crime drama, but we see the social changes which are happening within the world at large. Leon looks at climate change and the consequences of tourism in Venice.

So, lets look at the novel. Brunetti and his colleague Claudia Griffoni are asked to visit a local hospice. A dying patient wishes to speak to the police about her husband who has recently died in a road accident. However, she believes her
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This is another book in the series about a detective set in Venice, I always enjoy the information about Venice as it is a place I really enjoyed visiting. This book focuses on the quality of the water and the heat of the summer. The sad truth about the number of tourists resulting in the destruction of the city is once again highlighted, the investigation focuses around the vague discloses of a dying woman who suggests her husband’s death want an accident, In most police departments there would ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another leisurely, sometimes meandering, interlude in Venice, set in the hottest days of summer. Moving at the pace of lizards, the detectives of the Questura slowly but surely solve the mystery of a dying woman's accusation of foul play in her husband's death. Meanwhile, how does it all connect to the contamination in Venice's drinking water? Punctuated by frequent breaks for coffee and observations about contemporary Venice. Not a good fit for first time Commissario Brunetti readers, but come ...more
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

Trace Elements is the 29th (!!!) Guido Brunetti mystery by Donna Leon. Released 10th March 2020 by Grove Atlantic on their Atlantic Monthly Press imprint, it's 320 pages and available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

For fans of the series, the author, her style, the characters, and the settings need no introduction. For readers unfamiliar with the author who are looking for a solid series (and I mean -the entire series- there'
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trace Elements, Commissario Guido Brunetti #29, Donna Leon 5/3/2020 read 12/4/2020 4/5. ✅

When Dottoressa Donato calls the Questura to report that a dying patient at the hospice Fatebenefratelli wants to speak to the police, Commissario Guido Brunetti and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, waste no time in responding. Donna Leon once again engages our sensibilities as to the differences between guilt and responsibility. While discussing the present and the reality through the classics of literatur
Rosalie Simins
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is July in Venice and due to the extreme heat, Guido Brunetti’s usual appetite for Italian cuisine is greatly diminished. The heat combined with the hordes of tourists is unbearable. This particular case involves him in the death and suspected murder of Victorio Fadalto who tests water samples for the city of Venice. Environmental issues are a constant theme in Donna Leon’s novels and this book is no exception. Overtourism is another subject that the author champions. Brunetti solves both cri ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count 2 13 Jun 07, 2020 09:41PM  
English Translati...: Donna Leon - Trace Elements - Italy 2 16 Dec 17, 2019 11:33PM  

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Donna Leon (born September 29, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey) is an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice and featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti.

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over twenty-five years. She has worked as a lecturer in English Literature for the University of Maryland University College - Europe (UMUC-Europe) in Italy, then as a Professor

Other books in the series

Commissario Brunetti (1 - 10 of 30 books)
  • Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti, #1)
  • Death in a Strange Country (Commissario Brunetti, #2)
  • Dressed for Death (Commissario Brunetti, #3)
  • Death and Judgment (Commissario Brunetti, #4)
  • Acqua Alta (Commissario Brunetti, #5)
  • Quietly in Their Sleep (Commissario Brunetti, #6)
  • A Noble Radiance (Commissario Brunetti, #7)
  • Fatal Remedies (Commissario Brunetti, #8)
  • Friends in High Places (Commissario Brunetti, #9)
  • A Sea of Troubles (Commissario Brunetti, #10)

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“Brunetti finally accepted the appalling thought: a dying woman put out on the street because she couldn’t pay for the hospital. Where were they, for God’s sake, America?” 0 likes
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