Commissario Guido Brunetti takes on an investigation of an event that happened
15 years ago. A teenage girl named Manuela fell into the canal and started to drown. Saved by a stranger,
she suffered irreparable brain damage as a result of the incident. Her rescuer
initially claimed that he saw a man throw Manuela into the canal, but the next day he
remembered nothing at all;
his alcoholism caused him to forget the details of the incident completely. Now
Manuela's ailing grandmother, a wealthy friend of his in-laws and a patron of the arts in Venice, asks Brunetti to find out what really happened to her granddaughter.
At first, the investigation seems to be pointless. Who will remember the events from fifteen years ago? There were no witnesses other than an aging alcoholic. Where is the evidence? Is it possible to solve this crime? Was it even a crime? Will he be able to find out the truth about what happened in the “waters” of the Venice canal where Manuela was forever doomed to “eternal youth?”
Two main characters feature in this long-running series of mystery novels by Donna Leon: Guido Brunetti and the ancient city of Venice. Brunetti is a devoted family man who thinks deeply about his role as an investigator. Readers will get to know his entire family: his two children, who complain about the limited possibilities for future success, and his wife, a professor of English literature. Their mealtime discussions show that Brunetti cherishes the love and affection of his family in the complicated and at times dangerous life of the police detective.
The second main “character” in this novel is Brunetti’s beloved Venice. Despite its ancient history, Venice is changing. There is the massive MOSE engineering project to save the city from flooding and the advancing tides. There are also many African refugees on the streets of Venice asking for money. Tourists continue to flood into the city. Contessa Lando-Continui describes the landscape of Venice today: “‘I had the good fortune to grow up in a different Venice, not this stage set that’s been created for tourists to remind them of a city where, in a certain sense, they’ve never been.’”
Donna Leon is an American author of the very successful Commissario Guido Brunetti novels set in Venice. She has lived in Venice for over
25 years and worked as a lecturer in English Literature for the University of Maryland University College-Europe in Italy. Her first novel,
Death in La Fenice (1982), won the Suntory Mystery Fiction Award. She has also been named one of the Fifty Greatest Crime Writers by
The London Times. The Waters of Eternal Youth is the 25th novel in the Brunetti series.