51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Human frailty in a scorching Venetian summer,
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This review is from: A Question of Belief: (Brunetti 19) (Hardcover)
I have read an enjoyed all Donna Leon's books featuring her thoughtful and humane policeman Commissario Brunetti and his trusted assistant, inspector Vianello. The increasingly important part played by Signorina Ellectra, Vice-Questore Patta's computer-wizard secretary is an enjoyable part of recent books. One of the things I particularly like is that Brunetti isn't burdened by the all too frequent cliche's of detective fiction: he doesn't have a dysfunctional personal life, but loves his wife and children; he doesn't smoke and drink to excess or live off junk food. He's basically a happy and well-adjusted man with honourable intentions, but, sufficiently cynical to realize that he is no match for the corruption and cronyism of the Italian state. The author lives in Venice and it shows in the realism of her descriptions: one really can imagine walking along the alleys and enduring the humidity and heat that pervades this particular book, in contrast to an earlier book Acqua Alta where chill and cold wetness seeps into every page. I would also recommend the latter book as one of her best.
The book is carried along by two story-lines: it starts with an unofficial investigation of a confidence-trickster preying on Vianello's aunt that escalates into tragedy by the end of the book and a parallel story involving possible corruption connected with court proceedings that also becomes much more serious when one of the characters is murdered. Although Donna Leon's books are classified as detective fiction they are much more than this and, in some ways, the detection is peripheral to the exploration of morality and the understanding of what motivates people leavened with much humour over human weaknesses and foibles.