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"Without papers, without rights, without hope",
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This review is from: A Venetian Reckoning (Mass Market Paperback)
"Without papers, without rights, without hope." These are the women coming to the west from the Third World or from newly-liberated Eastern Europe in the hope of finding a better life, only instead to end up as cheap prostitutes. The result is another murder, another (apparently) grieving widow, another lawyer, and another case for Brunetti to solve.
There is an underlying hopelessness about the human condition in this, the fourth of Donna Leon's Brunetti series. Published in 1995, not long after the Tangentopoli scandals of 1992-93 that saw the Italian political system in meltdown due to the exposure of massive political corruption, the author refers to Lampedusa's great dictum - espoused in his great novel `The Leopard' - that things must change in order for them to stay the same. Brunetti meditates that, "there'd be elections; there'd be new faces and new promises, but all that would happen would be that different trotters would go into the trough ..."
But he himself is part of the system. When his teenage daughter Chiara complained that, " `since I was doing the police's work, they should pay me for my time' ", Brunetti, having acquiesced in using his daughter as a spy, "regretted Venice's thousand-year-old trading heritage." Moreover, we are all human, but it is nevertheless disheartening to see Brunetti relying on some colleague's computer hacking and to see him condone the corrupt amendment of police records, even if justice might be better served by these methods.
As usual, the denouement appears in the penultimate chapter with a twist in the final one. But, somehow this novel failed to live up to the previous three (hence only three stars). It's difficult to put my finger on why this may be so. Certainly, the story relies too much on Brunetti having contacts with various people all over the world, from Brazil to the Philippines. Or maybe it is the squeamish nature of the case that results in Brunetti's wife feeling "as though I'd looked through a window and seen human evil looking back at me."
But I'm well into reading the fifth in the series (`Acqua Alta') and am pleased to report a return to four-star form.