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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Unto Us a Son Is Given comes one of her most dark and thrilling mysteries yet. 

A woman’s cryptic dying words in a Venetian hospice lead Guido Brunetti to uncover a threat to the entire region in Donna Leon’s haunting 29th Brunetti novel. 

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 though he is not sure she can hear him Brunetti softly promises he and Griffoni will look into what initially appears to be a private family tragedy. They discover that Fadalto worked in the field collecting samples of contamination for a company that measures the cleanliness of Venice’s water supply and that he had died in a mysterious motorcycle accident. Distracted briefly by Vice Questore Patta’s obsession with youth crime in Venice, Brunetti is bolstered once more by the remarkable research skills of Patta’s secretary, Signora Elettra Zorzi. Piecing together the tangled threads, in time Brunetti comes to realize the perilous meaning in the woman’s accusation and the threat it reveals to the health of the entire region. But justice in this case proves to be ambiguous, as Brunetti is reminded it can be when, seeking solace, he reads Aeschylus’s classic play The Eumenides

As she has done so often through her memorable characters and storytelling skill, Donna Leon once again engages our sensibilities as to the differences between guilt and responsibility.

©2020 Donna Leon (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Trace Elements

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  • Overall
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Perfect

Another fabulous Commissario Brunetti book from Donna Leon. A seemingly unrelated to anything request from a dying woman leads Brunetti and his colleagues to look at an unsolved motorcycle accident. That leads to a chemical lab and it goes from there.

One of the things I love about Leon’s writing is the depiction of details. Brunetti’s actions as he gets home from work; his relationship with Paola; the description of his apartment (I want to drink wine on his terrace); the path through the city (the Bridge of Chewing Gum!), for example.

And maybe the best part about these books is the perfect narration by David Colacci. Just delightful.

8 people found this helpful

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Writer must have been paid by the word

Thank God I haven't run across many books like this. A more succinct author could have written this story in 2 hours or less. Every scene and every gesture is described in so much detail that it often puts me into a lull and makes me miss important facts. Things only start to happen in the last chapter of the book, by which time you may be beyond caring.

4 people found this helpful

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The funniest one

I’ve read all of them, and this is the first time I remember laughing out loud several times. Congrats to Donna Leon for adding comic relief to her skills as a mystery writer.

3 people found this helpful

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Not Up To Earlier Books—Slow and Boring

Not the best book in this series but Donna Leon is a master of description and dialogue. The heat in summertime Venice is palpable but there was too much about it. The story is okay but why would the police take such an interest in the death of a woman when no foul play was suspected. Doesn’t seem plausible and the pick pockets are just pawns to divert the reader. Nothing comes of that thread. I love Brunetti and everyone in the Questero and I would expect that they have more to do than investigating this woman’s claim that her husband took bad money and ‘they’ killed him. But, it turns out there was a crime but the finding out about it was dulled by the heat of the summer. The environmental crimes are the hardest to prove but in this case that wasn’t what got solved. I listened to the audible version and always enjoy listening to David Colacci.

2 people found this helpful

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I would never skip a novel in this series

The narrator, as always, is perfect! The main characters feel like old friends. The setting is splendid. The food is always interesting. Alas, this addition wasn’t one of the finest in this series. The author’s message is without question an extremely important one. Unfortunately, she sacrificed the novel’s pacing to stress her points.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome in its timelyness.

Ms. Leon never fails to educate, entertain and make her readers think. I have been a fan for many years and always take the opportunity to recommend her books.

1 person found this helpful

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Soporific

A slooow moving tale rendered far less interesting by the narrator. Did I mention the soapbox preaching?

1 person found this helpful

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This was awful

I’ve read all her books and really loved many but in the last few years there has been a shift. I shifted with her writing and enjoyed a few of the recent ones but this one was impossible. I still can’t figure out why she even bothered. Did she not realize all the rambling would ultimately bore the reader? The only saving grace was David Colacci as narrator. I returned it.

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Not her best, but still very good

I think I could be happy just reading her descriptions of the daily lives of her characters, they are rendered with such humor, patience, and style. The plot here is not unfamiliar, but still well rendered by the author. One caveat: her ending left me a bit unsatisfied.To say more would be to spoil.

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Slow plot and too long

While the narration was great the story was not. I have read/listened to all of Donna Leon's other books but found this one to be a let down. The story took took too long to evolve with too much detail. I hope her next book is up the the standards set by all of her other books.