Donna Leon's international best-selling and award-winning Commissario Guido
Brunetti novels have been praised for their ability to place their readers into
the thick of contemporary Venetian life. Now Blood from a Stone brings
Commissario Brunetti back on the scene: On a cold Venetian night shortly before
Christmas, a street vendor is killed in a scuffle in Campo Santo Stefano. The
closest witnesses to the event are the American tourists who had been browsing
the man's waresfake designer handbagsbefore his death. The dead man had been
working as a vu cumpra, one of the many African immigrants peddling goods
outside normal shop hours and trading without work permits.
Commissario Brunetti's response is that of everybody involved: Why would anyone kill an illegal immigrant? Because these workers have few social connections and little money, infighting seems to be the answer. And yet the killings have all the markings of a professional operation. Once Brunetti begins to investigate this unfamiliar Venetian underworld, he discovers that matters of great value are at stake within the secretive society.
While his wife, Paola, struggles to come to terms with their young daughter's prejudices about the immigrants, Brunetti finds that his own police force shares many of the same biases. Warned by Patta, his superior, to desist from further involvement in the case, Brunetti only becomes more determined to unearth the truth. How far will Brunetti be able to penetrate the murky subculture of Venice's illegal community? And how high does the corruption reach into the upper echelons of Brunetti's own world and the world at large?
By a confirmed master storyteller, Blood from a Stone is a pitch-perfect mystery, an alluring portrait of contemporary Venice, and an elucidating eye into the attitudes of a timeless place in the grip of change.
Two men passed under the wooden arch that led into Campo Santo Stefano, their
bodies harlequined by the coloured Christmas lights suspended above them.
Brighter light splashed from the stalls of the Christmas market, where vendors
and producers from different regions of Italy tempted shoppers with their local
specialities: dark-skinned cheeses and packages of paper-thin bread from
Sardinia, olives in varying shape and colour from the entire length of the
peninsula; oil and cheese from Tuscany; salami of all lengths, compositions, and
diameters from Reggio Emilia. Occasionally one of the men behind the counters
shouted out a brief hymn to the quality of his wares: 'Signori, taste this
cheese and taste heaven'; 'It's late and I want to go to dinner: only nine Euros
a kilo until they're gone'; 'Taste this pecorino, signori, best in the world'.
The two men passed the stalls, deaf to the blandishments of the merchants, ...
One of the many things to like about this series is watching Brunetti persist in doing the best and most honest job he can, despite the idiocy and corruption of his bosses. He's an everyman who keeps his perspective and humanity despite being a small cog in the mother of all bureaucracies (aka the Italian government).
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (611 words).
Donna Leon was born in the USA but has lived in Venice for about 25 years. Previously she lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, England, Iran and China. She says that the idea for the series came about in the early 80s when she and a friend were in a dressing room at La Fenice (Venice's principle theatre) chatting with the conductor and his wife, and they began to talk of wanting to murder a certain conductor. Something clicked..."and since we were in a conductors dressing room, I thought hmm where, how?..."
She is a professor of English Literature at a university near Venice and also the crime reviewer for the Sunday Times newspaper (UK), and an expert on opera. She admits that the character of Brunetti's wife, Paola, ...
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