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Leon fans will welcome the newest entry (after Beastly Things) in her superb series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, Venetian police officer extraordinaire. Interwoven among Leon's seductive cameos of Venetian life, the plot is especially compelling. Paola, Brunetti's wife, implores him to investigate a case that hits close to home-the tragic death of the visibly deaf, dumb, and retarded man who was a fixture in the local dry cleaning shop. To complicate matters, there is no official trace of the man's (commonly referred to as "the boy") existence. In the end, of course, Brunetti arrives at the subtle, sad conclusion that will move readers. Verdict Leon delivers an intricate plot couched in spare, Hemingwayesque prose. Her elegant, masterly use of language captures perfectly the quality and pace of life in Venice. Readers will particularly savor the long, leisurely, enticing lunches enjoyed by Venetians, and Brunetti's numerous breaks in cafes will elicit envy from espresso aficionados. A sine qua non for Leon fans who also enjoy Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series.-Lynne Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Commissario Guido Brunetti, out of a sense of guilt and at the urging of his compassionate wife, investigates the suspicious death of a disabled man, Davide Cavanella, in Leon's intriguing 22nd mystery featuring the crafty Venetian police inspector (after 2012's Beastly Things). Davide's mother is unwilling to discuss his death. Worse, there's no official evidence of Davide's existence: he apparently was never born and never went to school, saw a doctor, or received a passport. The colorful locals are uncooperative. Brunetti's understanding of the Venetian bureaucracy, which operates smoothly on bribery and familial connections, allows his subordinates to enlist the help of various aunts and cousins, as is neatly shown in a subplot involving the mayor and his son. Appreciative of feminine charms, the deeply uxorious Brunetti amply displays the keen intelligence and wry humor that has endeared this series to so many. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* It isn't so much crime itself that intrigues Venetian police commissario Guido Brunetti as it is the hidden stories behind the crime, or lurking on its edges. So it is again in this twenty-second Brunetti novel. At the urging of his wife, Paola, Brunetti investigates the death of a mentally handicapped man who worked at the family's dry cleaners. Did he really die of a sleeping-pill overdose? And why are there no official records indicating that the victim even existed? As Brunetti digs into the matter, he finds himself less bothered by the circumstances of the man's death than by the fact that he managed to live for 40 years without leaving any bureaucratic traces. Others would see only a mildly curious anomaly in the man's lack of a human footprint across a lifetime; Brunetti sees mystery and sadness, and it prompts him to keep digging. What he finds is a saga of appalling human cruelty, but one that eludes the penal code. In stark contrast to the tyranny of silence that shrouded the forgotten man's life is the outpouring of language and love that encircles the Brunetti family dinner table. In the end, this novel is a celebration of the humanizing power of words. At one point, Leon says, describing the dinnertime conversation, Paola expressed a wish and used the subjunctive, and Brunetti felt himself close to tears at the beauty and intellectual complexity of it. Name another crime novel that ends like that. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Leon's success well more than one million copies in print in North America; a devoted library following is testament to the heartening fact that character counts in crime fiction.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist