cover image Transient Desires

Transient Desires

Donna Leon. Atlantic Monthly, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5817-8

Bestseller Leon’s atmospheric, rather melancholy 30th mystery featuring Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti (after 2020’s Trace Elements) opens slowly as an aging Brunetti, who blames his tightening trousers on the dry cleaners rather than his eating habits, goes about his day: meeting with informants, lunching with colleagues, and dining with his erudite wife and opinionated children. Brunetti feels disillusioned with his retired friends, who can talk of nothing but grandchildren, and mournfully accepts that tourism will eventually destroy his beloved Venice. The pace picks up once he’s assigned to investigate the case of two young American women who were left unconscious and battered at a hospital’s ambulance dock. The two men who abandoned them there are soon identified as a well-to-do young lawyer and his childhood friend, a boatman. The action builds to a thrilling denouement involving coast guard boats and navy commandos, though some readers may be dissatisfied by the mystery’s less than morally clear resolution and the two men’s uncertain fate. Those already emotionally invested in Brunetti will best appreciate this entry. Agent: Susanne Bauknecht, Diogenes Verlag (Switzerland). (Mar.)