In the summer, I like to read mysteries, and have developed a fondness for Donna Leon’s Commisario Guido Brunetti. Her past two books have pushed the murder further and further back, focusing instead on how familial relationships increasingly involve the Commisario in investigations long before any crime occurs. In this recent novel, she focuses on the gay aristocracy, building to a sad reevaluation about friendship. Italy’s law concerning adoption for inheritance provides the mainspring for her plot.
Here’s a sample of her insights: “This, Brunetti knew, was what happened to people who retired. Like photos left too long on the wall, their colours began to fade. Hair followed life and began to grow dim, the brightness of their eyes diminished. A strong jawline became harder to see, skin dried and grew more fragile. They remained the same people, but they began to disappear. Certainly, others no longer noticed them, nor what they wore no what they did. They were there, hanging suspended, washed out and considered useless, trapped behind the glass of age. Dust gathered on the glass, and one day they weren’t there on the wall among the other fading photos, and soon after that people began to forget what they looked like or what they had said” (59).