The Magazine for Crime & Mystery


Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Paul Doherty's short story THE KYRIE MAN

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood

Wilful Behaviour

Donna Leon

Heinemann £16.99

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Reviewed by Judith Cutler

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To my shame, although Donna Leon won the CWA/The Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction in 2000, this was the first I've read in her Commissario Brunetti series. Neither do I know Venice as well as I'd like, a pity since Leon establishes the city as more a deeply flawed character than a mere location.
Wilful Behaviour is beautifully written, with moral distinctions and graduations much in the tradition of Henry James and Edith Wharton, two authors much admired by Brunetti's professor wife, Paola. It is she who is responsible for her husband's interest in the problems of one of her students, Claudia Leonardo, who wishes to obtain an official pardon for an unspecified criminal who died in horrible circumstances after the Second World War. Soon Claudia is found dead, and Brunetti picks his delicate way through the tortuous processes of Italian justice, riddled with corruption, inefficiency and deviousness. Justice either for the dead or for the living is impossible, while old and morally bankrupt families keep tight fingers entwined in the mesh holding the city together. All one can hope for is an appropriate conclusion.
t's always difficult when writing a series to create a balance between the needs of new readers and those familiar with your series characters. Brunetti leaps triumphantly from the page, as does his wife. But their children are introduced with an audible crashing of gears, a clumsy telling, not relaxed showing, and a major character, Signorina Elettra, apparently an old and trusted colleague, gets no introduction at all. If you know the series, these blemishes will no doubt sink to insignificance in this elegantly narrated and finely plotted novel. If you do not, try to ignore them anyway

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