Book Review of Transient Desires by Donna Leon
My Rating – 3.5 out of 5
Plot Summary – Transient Desires
This is my first reading of Donna Leon, thus of the Commissario Guido Brunetti series. I must confess that I hadn’t heard of this series before, though there are apparently 29 more which come before Transient Desires! I saw this book featured in the New York Times Bestsellers list in March and not having anything new to read at that time, I picked it up, intrigued by the premise offered in the book blurb on Goodreads.
Thus, here I am, putting out a review of the book, which has been pleasing to read, though not so fetching that makes me yearn to read more of the series. Until I am faced with the same situation again, of not having a new book to read.
Now, getting back to the book at hand. Set in the charming city of Venice, Italy, Guido Brunetti is a Police Inspector (equivalent) with a comfortable home life with his University Professor wife Paula and two children. One day, an incident crosses his desk which is the base of the story. Two American women, in their early twenties, are left on the threshold (being Venice, it’s the lagoon facing dock) of a Hospital by two young men, who immediately escape. Both girls are severely injured and unconscious at the time. Though they get treatment at the hospital, their desertion by the two men accompanying them is a crime against humanity.
Upon investigation, the young men are identified and brought in for questioning. Their defense of getting the injured women to the doorstep of the hospital for help, is weak as they did not wait for medical help and did not try to find out later as to how the women were faring. Though there is no assault on any of the women, the injuries on them are purely the result of an accident. Brunetti is not convinced with the reason that both men give for deserting the women at the Hospital doorstep.
It is when he starts looking more closely at the the two men and their antecedents, he discovers that one of them comes from a family with a shady past and one of his relatives has been under police watch for many years though nothing can be pinned on him. But what could possibly be his ties to the two women? Brunetti doesn’t give up, pulling all his contacts, informants and other colleagues in the Police department, who he can lean on for information and leads to get to the bottom of this thing, which intrigues him no end.
Conclusion – Book Review of Transient Desires
What starts off as a rather innocuous looking oversight on the part of two young men, ends up leading the good Inspector into something far more sinister and diabolical and like most stories – All’s well that ends well! My grouse against the book is rather petty – it never goes beyond the third gear and though the crime at the base of it is quite appalling, the book’s treatment of the same doesn’t punch you with full force.
It is a tame and placid book, wouldn’t get your blood boiling but at the same time the easy narrative style and the attractive visual imagery of Venice and Italians in general, are quite well done. If you have a lazy weekend at your disposal and nothing compelling to read, you could worse than pick up this book and read it over 4-5 sessions. Also, reading the 30th installment of the series doesn’t make you feel that you have missed anything till date, can be read as a standalone quite easily.