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Authors: Donna Leon

Drawing Conclusions

BOOK: Drawing Conclusions
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About the Book

When a young woman returns from holiday to find her elderly neighbour dead, she immediately alerts the police. Commissario Brunetti is called to the scene but, though there are signs of a struggle, it seems the woman has simply suffered a fatal heart attack. Vice-Questore Patta is eager to dismiss the case as a death from natural causes, but Brunetti believes there is more to it than that. His suspicions are further aroused when the medical examiner finds faint bruising around the victim’s neck and shoulders, indicating that someone might have grabbed and shaken her. Could this have caused her heart attack? Was someone threatening her?

Conversations with the woman’s son, her upstairs neighbour, and the nun in charge of the old-age home where she volunteered, do little to satisfy Brunetti’s nagging curiosity. With the help of Inspector Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is determined to get to the truth and find some measure of justice.

Insightful and emotionally powerful,
Drawing Conclusions
reaffirms Donna Leon’s status as one of the masters of literary crime fiction.

About the Author

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for thirty years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Her previous novels featuring Commissario Brunetti have all been highly acclaimed, including
Friends in High Places
, which won the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction,
Through a Glass, Darkly
,
Suffer the Little Children
,
The Girl of His Dreams
and, most recently,
A Question of Belief
.

Also by Donna Leon

Death at La Fenice

Death in a Strange Country

The Anonymous Venetian

A Venetian Reckoning

Acqua Alta

The Death of Faith

A Noble Radiance

Fatal Remedies

Friends in High Places

A Sea of Troubles

Wilful Behaviour

Uniform Justice

Doctored Evidence

Blood from a Stone

Through a Glass, Darkly

Suffer the Little Children

The Girl of His Dreams

About Face

A Question of Belief

Donna Leon
Drawing
Conclusions

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0
Epub ISBN 9781446457795
www.randomhouse.co.uk
Published by William Heinemann 2011
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
Copyright © Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich 2011
Map © ML Design
Donna Leon has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
First published in Great Britain in 2011 by
William Heinemann
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA
www.rbooks.co.uk
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
www.randomhouse.co.uk/offices.htm
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN: 9780434021437 (Hardback)
ISBN: 9780434021444 (Trade paperback)
For Jenny Liosatou and Giulio D’Alessio
Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Donna Leon

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

Map

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

In the name of God Amen. I George Frederick Handel considering the uncertainties of human life doe make this my will in manner following …

Last testament of George Frederick Handel
1

Because she had worked for decades as a translator of fiction and non-fiction from English and German to Italian, Anna Maria Giusti was familiar with a wide range of subjects. Her most recent translation had been an American self-help book about how to deal with conflicting emotions. Though the superficial idiocies she had encountered – which had always sounded sillier when she put them into Italian – had occasionally reduced her to giggles, some of the text returned to her now, as she climbed the stairs to her apartment.

‘It is possible to feel two conflicting emotions about the same person at the same time.’ So it had proven with her feelings towards her lover, whose family she had just returned from visiting in Palermo. ‘Even people we know well can surprise us when they are placed in different surroundings.’ ‘Different’ seemed an inadequate word to describe Palermo and what she had found there. ‘Alien’, ‘exotic’, ‘foreign’: not even these words did justice to what she had experienced, yet how to explain it? Did they not all carry
telefonini
? Was not everyone she met exquisitely well
dressed and equally well mannered? Nor was it a question of language, for they all spoke an Italian more elegant than anything she heard from her Veneto-cadenced family and friends. Nor financial, for the wealth of Nico’s family was on view at every turn.

She had gone to Palermo in order to meet his family, believing he would take her to stay with them, yet she had spent her five nights in a hotel, one with more stars awarded it than her own translator’s earnings would have permitted her, had the hotel accepted her insistence that she be allowed to pay the bill.

‘No, Dottoressa,’ the smiling hotel director had told her, ‘L’Avvocato has seen to it.’ Nico’s father. ‘L’Avvocato.’ She had started by calling him ‘Dottore’, which honorific he had dismissed with a wave of his hand, as though her attempt at deference had been a fly. ‘Avvocato’ had refused to fall from her lips, and so she had settled on ‘Lei’ and had used the formal pronoun, after that, for everyone in his family.

Nico had warned her that it would not be easy, but he had not prepared her for what she was to experience during the week. He was deferential to his parents: had she seen this behaviour in anyone other than the man she thought she loved, she would have described it as fawning. He kissed his mother’s hand when she came into the room and got to his feet when his father entered.

One night, she had refused to attend the family dinner; he had taken her back to the hotel after their own nervous meal together, kissed her in the lobby, and waited while she got into the elevator before going meekly back to sleep in his parents’
palazzo
. When she demanded the next day to know what was going on, he had replied that he was the product of where he lived, and this was the way people behaved. That afternoon, when he drove her back to the hotel and said he’d pick her up at eight for dinner, she had smiled and said goodbye to him at the hotel entrance, gone inside and told the
young man at the desk that she was checking out. She went to her room, packed, called for a taxi, and left a note for Nico with the concierge. The only seat on the evening plane to Venice was in business class, but she was happy to pay it, thinking it took the place of at least part of the hotel bill she had not been allowed to pay.

Her bag was heavy and made a loud noise when she set it down on the first landing. Giorgio Bruscutti, the older son of her neighbours, had left his sports shoes on the landing, but tonight she was almost happy to see them: proof that she was home. She lifted the bag and carried it up to the second landing, where she found, as she had expected, neatly tied bundles of
Famiglia cristiana
and
Il Giornale
. Signor Volpe, who had become an ardent ecologist in his old age, always left their paper for recycling outside the door on Sunday evening, even though there was no need to take it out until Tuesday morning. So pleased was she to see this sign of normal life that she forgot to pass her automatic judgement that the garbage was the best place for both of those publications.

The third landing was empty, as was the table to the left of the door. This was a disappointment to Anna Maria: it meant either that nothing had arrived in the mail for her during the last week – which she could not believe – or that Signora Altavilla had forgotten to leave Anna Maria’s post for her to find when she got back.

She looked at her watch and saw that it was almost ten. She knew the older woman stayed up late: they had once each confessed to the other that the greatest joy of living alone was the freedom to stay up reading in bed for as long as they pleased. She stepped back from the door to Signora Altavilla’s apartment and looked to see if light filtered from beneath the door, but the landing light made it impossible to detect. She approached the door and placed her ear against it, hoping to hear some sound from within: even the television would indicate that Signora Altavilla was still awake.

Disappointed at the silence, she picked up her bag and set it down loudly on the tiles. She listened, but no sound from inside followed it. She picked it up again and started up the steps, careful to let the edge of the bag bang against the back of the first step, louder this time. Up the stairs she went, making so much noise with the bag that, had she heard someone else do it, she would have made some passing reflection on human thoughtlessness or stuck her head out of the door to see what was wrong.

At the top of the steps she set the bag down again. She found her key and opened the door to her own apartment, and as it opened, she felt herself flooded with peace and certainty. Everything inside was hers, and in these rooms she decided what she would do and when and how. She had no one’s rules to obey and no one’s hand to kiss, and at that thought all doubt ended, and she was certain she had done the right thing in leaving Palermo, leaving Nico, and ending the affair.

BOOK: Drawing Conclusions
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