is every bit as impressive as any previous outing for the urbane Commissario Brunetti we've encountered--and reading a Donna Leon
novel is almost as good as a trip to Italy, so evocative is the ex-pat of her adoptive country. Not that Signor Berlusconi would necessarily approve of the multiple levels of Italian corruption and double-dealing that Leon has strip-mined for her unflappable copper to take on--and her view of the other dark sides of Italy strays quite some way from the tourist's point of view.
Here, Brunetti seems to have come up against an open-and-shut case; a well-heeled Venetian is found bloodily murdered in her flat, with her missing maid, a Romanian immigrant, the prime suspect. The maid is tracked down, but meets a violent end on a railway track attempting to escape. Needless to say, Brunetti doesn't takes things at face value and when it transpires that the money found on the maid has not been stolen, this (along with other factors) has Brunetti doing a little unofficial sleuthing, and uncovering a very tangled web of motives indeed--with revelations quite different from the attempts to cover up municipal shenanigans that have often been the worm in the bud of previous Brunetti cases.
By now, we're all very comfortable with the Commissario and his dogged head-butting at complacent institutions. But Leon is not one to rest on her laurels--there are new elements here (notably in the brilliantly orchestrated final chapters) that take us into new territory. But all the things we love about this series are firmly in place: vivid, acutely detailed locales, the usual exemplary characterisation (not just of Brunetti--the whole dramatis personae here is spot-on); and of course that impeccable plotting. --Barry Forshaw
Fans of Leon will not be disappointed. . . . She has crafted yet another expert mystery. ("The Baltimore Sun") Deeply satisfying and often very funny. ("The Miami Herald") A beautifully cadenced mystery . . . no one is more graceful and accomplished than Donna Leon. ("The Washington Post")