The Guido Brunetti mystery series always takes the reader on a guided tour of Venice, where he is a Commissario of police. The plot of this novel is somewhat different from that of its predecessors. When he is forced to attend a dinner at his titled in-laws on behalf of a countess, he takes on a case that hardly could be called a case: The countess asks him to look into an event that took place 15 years previously.
It seems the countess’ granddaughter was thrown (or fell) into a canal, rescued by a drunken man, but suffered brain damage, the result of oxygen deprivation to the brain when she was under water too long. Consequently, the child, now a woman 30 years old, has the mental state of a seven-year old. Without a clue, Brunetti tries to locate the rescuer, who is murdered just before they were to meet. Now we have a murder to solve as well.
I have enjoyed every novel in the series I have read. In each, Brunetti has painstakingly solved each mystery through careful and logical analysis. In “The Waters of Eternal Youth”, however, the resolution takes place by an accident, ex parte of any police work. Mere happenstance, and less satisfying, although the result provides the author the means to end the book with an interesting and gratifying twist.
In this wonderful entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, Inspector Rutledge inherits a mystery when the original investigator suddenly suffers a heart attack and dies in a small Cornwall town. Starting from scratch because the original statements and notes of his dead predecessor are missing, Rutledge finds four young women accused of murder by a local farmer while rowing on a river; their claim: they were attempting to save him when his boat sank.
The victim, while in a coma, could not provide any facts, and when he dies of a head injury the charge becomes one of murder. It remains for Rutledge either to prove or disprove the charge. While seeking the truth of the matter, including motivation, Rutledge encounters additional murders and assaults and the question arises: do these relate to the original case?
The mother-son writing team of this long-standing series takes a deep look into the personalities and motivations of the characters as Rutledge delves into the process of clearing the young women as he becomes more aware of the situation. As is a constant in the series, Rutledge is haunted by his experiences on the Western Front during the Great War, and the descriptions of the Cornwall area on the northern coast and speech of its inhabitants are skillfully done.