Book11, in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Series
This novel was originally published in 2002, I knew I had missed it while I read my way through the series so when it was reprinted in 2010; I seized the opportunity to catch up. Ms. Leon’s earlier novels are thoughtful and satisfying in many ways and this one shines, it is a powerful murder investigation that has Brunetti uncovering dark secrets that date back as far as WW11.
Claudia, a student of Paola, Brunetti’s wife, asks for help in obtaining a pardon for a crime committed years ago by her now dead grandfather. He is intrigued by this unusual young lady’s request but made little of it until she is found stabbed to death in her apartment.
When Brunetti breaks the devastating news to Signora Jacobs, an old Austrian lady and Claudia’s only close friend, he discovers an extraordinary art collection in her modest apartment. Brunetti always the investigator is intrigued and soon learns she was once Claudia’s grandfather’s lover. Could the stunning art collection have come from desperate people selling their prize possessions during the war and be the reason behind the grandfather’s imprisonment….
When Signora Jacobs is also found murdered, Brunetti launches an investigation that will uncover shocking secrets. He discovers evidence hidden deep in the closets of Nazi Collaborators that ultimately reveals the exploitation of Italian Jews during the war……
This is an excellent example of a classic detective murder tale, a thought provoking story that highlights and exposes the way of doing business in a corrupt world. The first few chapters set the scenes really well while at the same time setting a sub-story which has Brunetti struggling to help a friend obtain a construction permit without paying the customary bribe. The characters are memorable, the plot is intricate and multi-dimensional, and the narration is fluid, it subtly and slowly draws the readers into a compelling and atmospheric tale that is interspersed with domestic interludes. Ms. Leon loves to show the personal side of Italian life through food and family interaction, an asset to any story when not overdone.
This is one of my favourite novels in this series.