Random House. This edition first published: April 2008
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
A spring day brings with it the funeral of Guido Brunetti's mother and a
rare gathering of Brunetti relatives at his brother Sergio's house. The
funeral is conducted by Father Antonin, a school friend of Sergio's.
Antonin has been working in the Congo, and returned home to Venice under a
cloud. He comes to alert Brunetti that a bogus religious movement is
swindling people out of their money. Despite the fact that Brunetti is not
religious, he decides to attend one of the meetings to see for himself how
the scam works.
Vice Questore Patta has been away at a conference in Berlin, and returns
full of the zeal of networking, plus some European funding to make their
policing methods more sensitive to inter-cultural dynamics, whatever that
may be. The validity of this approach is tested when Brunetti and Vianello
pull the body of a young girl from the Grand Canal. Twenty four hours
later the girl has not been reported as missing. The post mortem seems to
indicate that she has accidentally drowned, but a watch and a ring on her
body make it likely she was a thief.
Family means a lot to Guido Brunetti, and Donna Leon has the knack of
sharing his feelings with us. His own concern with his family, both his
memories of his mother, and then also the way he feels about his wife and
children, makes it even harder for him to understand why no-one has
reported the drowned girl missing. Guido is also interested in the social
glue that holds Venetian society together. Religion has been replaced by
wealth, or the lack of it. He has a nose for the corrupt and unhealthy,
and he reflects on the sort of world his children will inherit.
This is the 17th title in the Guido Brunetti series. Donna Leon has
produced a book a year since 1992, constantly enriching her Venetian world
with believable characters, and focussing on the issues that beset modern
Venice. She gives us a glimpse beneath the tourist veneer, and reading the
next is always a pleasure.
Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over 25 years. Her 9th novel, FRIENDS
IN HIGH PLACES, won the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction. There are
many sites that will give further biographical insights. Try
April 2008 review first posted on Murder and Mayhem
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