Donna Leon

Heinemann £15.99

Reviewed by Angus Wells

I don't know her - never heard of her before, which has been my loss, so now I'm going out to find the other eleven books. Because this was brilliant. Low key, human(e), and quite irresistable. When I first started reading I thought I'd be bored. I go far more for American stuff. Dennis Lehane, Jeffery Deaver - that kind of hard hitting crime. Hell, I even named my dog Elmore! But this was something different. It reminded me of Elmore Leonard's and John Harvey's placement of characters and locations, but without any violence. She creates a Venice that is (me not having been there) totally believable, and fascinating. And in Brunetti, a character that simultaneously fascinates and intrigues. A man who doesn't wear a gun, but would sooner find out the truth and go home for lunch with his wife. I.e. Brunetti is a totally respectable cop (with great taste in food) even as he accepts the corruption that exists inside the system, be it in the military academy where he investigates the supposed suicide of a cadet, or within the Italian government. To give the plot away would be to give too much away, so I shall not - it's too subtle - so just read it, and enjoy Brunetti as much as I did.