Trace Elements

Trace Elements

Book - 2020 | First Grove Atlantic edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2020
Edition: First Grove Atlantic edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780802148674
Branch Call Number: FIC MYS
Characteristics: 278 pages : maps ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

This is the most recent of Donna Leon's "Commissario Guido Brunetti" mystery series. Fans of Louise Penny will enjoy this series set in Venice, Italy.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 01, 2020

I hated the previous book but I thought I would give this a chance, Waste of time. Lots of filler: drinking coffee, eating sandwiches, complaining about the heat, tourists, cruise chip, Gypsies, and so on. Very simple crime... perhaps a short story. Elletra's ability to hack secure systems might have been clever in the early days- but unrealistic now.

Do try LaFenice first.

Oct 22, 2020

I always regret when I come to the end of one of her novels. They're so enjoyable to read! Also, I admire her realistic cynicism.

Aug 30, 2020

One of the weak novels in this detective series of social and environmental Venetian crimes set with tidbits from daily marital life and spousal literary themes usually from Greek or Roman classics. The writing is padded with filler material to achieve book length; the plot is very clear early while the philosophical and social insights are needlessly strung out.

Aug 27, 2020

I also have read every one of Donna Leon's books and immediately reserve when I see a new one has been published. Yes, the story line here is not that exciting, but the author is such a wonderful and skilled "wordsmith" Her description of the need to "accept" the duplicity in Italy's way of doing things, i.e., accepting customs that have been ingrained for thousands of years. I love her writing and I love the country! The virus has postponed my 2 months/yr spent there for the last 30 yrs.

Jul 28, 2020

This novel is about water quality in Venice - who tests it, how reliable that testing might not be, who pollutes the water, results of that pollution. and consequences for polluters. This story idea is rolled into a neat plot that has Commissarios Brunetti and Griffoni investigating the deathbed revelations of a dying wife that her dead husband had been killed because he was involved in reporting fake water testing results in order to get "bad money" to pay for her cancer treatments. Leon stays focused on this plot without too many side distractions about Italian food/meals, Brunetti's home life and their love of classic Italian literature and relationships at Brunetti's workplace. She does a wonderful job, however, with one sideline - descriptions of the oppressive heat during August in Venice and the congestion of its narrow lanes by sightseeing tourists brought in by those annoying cruise ships. She continues to incorporate other characteristics of Italian life into this novel that make her novels so different from other police procedural novels. A good summer read - not an overly long drawn out story.

Jul 01, 2020

Having read every Brunetti mystery and having looked forward to this one, I have to admit I was disappointed. Almost from the beginning of the story, the reader has a clear idea of the resolution. No big surprises here, but lots of philosophical musings from our beloved Commissario.

Apr 16, 2020

Commissarios Brunetti and Griffoni are called to a dying woman’s bedside to hear her last few words giving clues to her husband’s accidental death.

As ever, this 29th outing of Brunetti and his Venice Questura colleagues is a good one. Some new characters and questionable associations regarding some youthful pickpockets will lead me to look forward to her 30th!

Mar 23, 2020

Trace Elements continues the theme of Earthly Remains, the willing destruction of the Venice lagoon for profit, along with complicated human passions of jealousy and marital love. But here the theme includes a last chapter where Brunetti’s struggle with justice is laid on the table. Was his solution just or expedient? Perhaps I need to read Aeschylus.

debwalker Mar 20, 2020

Roam the streets of Venice with Guido Brunetti, the police commissario in Donna Leon’s atmospheric mystery series.

Mar 10, 2020

I too missed the inclusion of Paola, Brunetti's wife, though I don't miss their children. The enlarged inclusion of Griffoni is welcome.

I'm very surprised by a laughable error on p.182. One of Donna Leon's little conceits - or attractive features of Brunetti's character - is that he appreciates the ancient Greek dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; at this point of the story, Brunetti is reading The Eumenides (The Furies), the story of vengeance sought by Clytemnestra for her murder by Orestes, her son, in retaliation for her murder of Agamemnon, her husband, Orestes' father.

By some oversight, in a nearby following paragraph, Agamemnon - whom Brunetti does not like - is described as "rejected husband of Helen" of Troy. How could Donna Leon make such an error? and how could a competent proofreader miss it? Well, even Homer, the author of the Iliad, made a few mistakes - though none as great as that. Is Donna Leon slipping? or relying on a "ghost writer" to help? Hope not; I wish her more years, and books.


View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at VPL

To Top