Donna Leon

William Heinemann £16.99 hdbk

Released: April 1st 2010

Reviewer: Angela Hatherell

Mother of 5, grannie of 11, before marriage to Army officer she was an embryo librarian. Now retired and volunteering two afternoons a week in Oxfam bookshop. Crossword fan (Telegraph, Observer, Times) and most enjoy reading historical/crime


The story, set in Venice in a fierce heatwave, involves Commissario Brunetti and his side-kick Vianello, with the aid of the formidable Signora Elettra, in two interlocking cases: officially one concerning  corruption in the Italian legal system and unofficially in the activities of a fraudulent “faith” healer.

There are puzzling delays in the rulings in Judge Luisa Coltellini’s Court, in which her usher Araldo  Fontana seems to play an important part; and Vianello’s aunt,  involved with fortune-tellers and faith healers, is taking large sums of money out of the family business. More investigations lead to a murder,and the connection is finally made between the two cases.   

The ending, in which newly introduced characters take part, is satisfactorily surprising, but the way to it, weighed down by all that heat, is leisurely, and I was not unduly gripped. Not having read any previous books by Donna Leon I found it a little difficult to get into this one. There was a lack of background information, admittedly tedious for those who have read earlier books, which would have been helpful.






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