Publisher/Format: Atlantic Monthly Press (April 4, 2011) 266 pages
Characters: Brunetti, Vianello, Signorina Elletra
Subject: violence toward women
Series: Commissario Brunetti series
Genre: police procedural mystery
Source: E-galley from publisher, Grove Press via Net Galley
Commissario Guido Brunetti is probably my all-time favorite policeman.
- He lives in Venice.
- He's still madly in love with his wife of over 20 years.
- His wife is a gorgeous, rich, educated, independent college professor who fixes him incredible homemade lunches everyday.
- He doesn't drive a car - he walks or takes the vaporetto (the Venetian water equivalent of a bus!)
- He has two typical teenage children he has trouble understanding.
- He hates modernity, cardboard sandwiches, and crowds.
- He reads Cicero, Tacitus and the Greeks in their original languages.
- He knows his way around the fine wine world, and often leaves the office to mull over problems at the corner bar.
- He has a jerk for a boss, and a megalomaniac working for him.
- He knows when to turn a blind eye to irregularities in process.
- He has a law degree but chooses to be a policeman.
- He often leaves his gun locked in his closet at home.
- He often forgets to carry his telefonino.
- He takes his wife flowers - often.
- He has a compassionate, caring, and intelligent manner towards those he works with-including victims, witnesses and even some accused.
- He's not afraid to trust his gut instincts.
I mean really, what's not to like?
In this latest (#20) of her police procedural mystery series, Donna Leon leads us gradually along as Brunetti is faced with trying to decide whether the unexpected death of a old lady ruled death by heart attack, was actually helped along by some outside violence. As he slowly works his way through the stories of those involved, we are again taken into the darker sides of life in the fabled city, into the culture of wife beating, political corruption, police indifference, and officials 'looking the other way' as money, information, and goods are exchanged for favors. Brunetti's incredible ability to be quiet and listen allows each participant in the event to tell his or her story and give us clues as to what really happened. The ending is vintage Brunetti and will not disappoint.
This one is Leon at her best, it is Brunetti at his most human and his most vulnerable, and it is definitely Signorina Elletra's star performance to date. For those of you who are fans of this series, you have a treat in store. For those of you who have not had a chance to sample, these are so well-written that each can stand alone, so what are you waiting for?