'Donna Leon is keeping up an astonishingly high standard ... she achieves a perfect blend of characters, place, mystery and social issues. Her sixteenth Brunetti novel is also one of her best.' The Times
When Commissario Brunetti is summoned to the hospital bedside of a senior paediatrician whose skull has been brutally fractured, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men have burst into the doctor's apartment in the middle of the night, attacked him and took his 18-month-old son - but why? As he investigates, Brunetti finds infertility, desperation, and babies for sale. Meanwhile, Inspector Vianello uncovers a scam between pharmacists and doctors in the city. And certain information about one's neighbours can lead to all kinds of corruption and all sorts of pain...
Donna Leon's new novel is as subtle and gripping as ever, set in a beautifully realised Venice, seething with small-town malice.
In Leon's 16th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, at once astringent yet lyrical, two rival police forces Brunetti and his Venetian colleagues and the carabinieri are both interested in a doctor who illegally adopts an Albanian infant. When three carabinieri break into the doctor's apartment and seize the child at night, they injure the doctor, leaving him mute. Much of the early action takes place in a hospital, and because Venetian hospitals appear only slightly less bureaucratic and Kafkaesque than their stateside counterparts, Leon's marvelous insights into Italian life, so sharp when she explores a military academy in Uniform Justice or glassblowers in Through a Glass, Darkly, aren't as fresh, sinister or compelling here. But once the IVs and bandages give way to vandalism at a pharmacy and the family secrets of a neo-Fascist plumbing tycoon, Leon regains her stride and the novel's last fifth is first-rate and masterful. Leon seldom delivers a "feel good" ending, choosing instead conclusions that are wise and inevitable while still being unsettling.