Uniform Justice Hardcover – 6 Mar 2003
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Uniform Justice, the latest outing for Donna Leon's creation, Commissario Brunetti, is a prime example of Leon's non pareil scene-setting and brilliantly wrought plots, which often take their own sweet time to establish an inexorable grip. After the death in the first few pages that sets the narrative in progress, the reader (and Brunetti) has to crack a particularly knotty puzzle. Did the young cadet at a prestigious military school die at his own hand, or was it murder? And, if his death was self-inflicted, was it intentional or accidental?
The boy's parents are separated, and Brunetti learns that his mother was the victim of a shooting some years ago. Further, the boy's sister has disappeared. At the military school, Brunetti encounters a polite wall of silence, but that's nothing new for him, and this resourceful Italian copper thrives on unsolvable crimes. This time, however, the complex mystery he encounters lends itself to no easy solution. The heady brew here yokes in high-level corruption involving Italian army procurement and the allegation of transgressive sexual practices.
As ever, Leon juggles these elements with consummate skill, and it's a given that the Venetian setting is as impeccably conjured as ever. The treatment of Brunetti is fresh, too: the frustration and intransigence he struggles with are particularly counterpointed by his identification with the case--Brunetti has a son of the same age as the dead boy. But what's notably pleasing here is Donna Leon's refusal to tie everything up in a too-neat and orderly fashion. Its messy compromises are much more like real life than the contrivances of most crime novels. --Barry Forshaw
Her novels have become successively more subtle, more complex and perhaps more serious, without ever losing their compelling power.' -- The Evening Standard - praise for Wilful Behaviour
Compelling brilliantly evoking Venetian atmosphere, and the characters of Brunetti and his family continue to deepen throughout this series. -- The Times - Praise for Wilful Behaviour
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Top Customer Reviews
Set in a private military school, the twelfth instalment in the Commissario Brunetti series is one of the best, in my opinion. There is a similarity to a previous instalment - The Death of Faith, 1997 - in that we are not really sure that a crime has actually been committed until we are more than halfway through the book.
Published in 2003, we finally start dealing in euros rather than lira, but the restoration of the church of San Lorenzo opposite the police station - work on which was taking place as far back as the very first episode (Death at La Fenice, 1992) - continues at its slow pace.
As usual, much of the plot relies on Signorina Elletra's abilities with the computer, and one does wonder if the speed and ease with which she gathers and interprets information for Brunetti pushes the bounds of credulity too far. Also as usual, there is a bitter taste in the reader's mouth at the end, as the workings of the Italian legal system clash with those of natural justice.
From the opening pages, which quickly sets the tone, "Uniform Justice" is fast-paced, extremely exciting, and quite gripping. It is difficult to find an author today who is better!
A young cadet at an exclusive Venetian military prep school has been found hanged in his dormitory. The school quickly has it proclaimed a suicide, but Brunetti knows otherwise. He and his team of loyal members of Venice's police department quickly begin
their investigation--an investigation that, once more, leads us into the power structures of "the Pearl of the Adriatic."
Leon is never slow to touch up socially significant issues and she plows into this one at gale force. "Corruption in Things Italian" seems to be her middle name and she pulls no punches. One would imagine that the Italian military and even some of its other "sacred" institutions will not view this book (nor her others!) in pleased frames of mind. Still, Leon is one of the most popular American novelists read abroad today (in fact, even her recent hard-bound copies are NOT published in the US for some really strange reason!).
Again,"Uniform Justice" is Leon at her best and Brunetti doing what he does best--solving murders. An excellent read!
As ever, all the usual ingredients which make the series so special are here: the excellent Brunetti (it's very hard to express how refreshing a detective he is among the the slew of cliched loners; he is remarkable); the sensuous yet slightly grimy portrait of Venice; Bruentti's heart-warming family; Leon's ability to create excellent character sketches in a limited number of pages; and Brunetti's children, who drift in the background with invigorating youth, like joyful spirits. It's all so comfortable and warming.
What else is excellent? The plot, for one. The mystery. Leon's examination of a rather frightening military culture. I like these books in part because the social opinions Leon expounds, the messages she gives, are so incredibly sensible. Many people indeed could benefit from reading these novels - and not just Venetians. One thing symbolised so excellently is the ability of the little man, the serf, almost, to get one-up on those higher than him, despite corruptionm, which is an ability which seems rife in Venetian society. The scenes in which Brunetti is able to so easily manipulate his boss are a supreme joy to read, and very funny as well.
But what, therefore, makes this one the best? The ending does. Leon is a very curious writer in that crime-fiction is just a hobby, to finance her first love - opera. You'd think that she might take, therefore, a slightly cavalier attitude toward it, but not at all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have only just finished it and it is very similar quality to the previous Brunetti novels.Published 10 months ago by Rats Chandler
Really good read but, I always feel she has a problem with the endingPublished 12 months ago by Jean
Very different story which Leon tells through Brunelli's emotional stance as he is affected by the sudden death of a young cadet who is a similar age to his young son Raffi. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Sue Mercer