Commissario Guido Brunetti’s hopes for a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera—a body so badly beaten the face is completely unrecognizable. Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the corpse but is met with a wall of silence. He then receives a telephone call from a contact who promises some tantalizing information. And before the night is out, Brunetti is confronting yet another appalling, and apparently senseless, death.
The third in Leon's richly evocative mysteries set in Venice and starring police Commissario Guido Brunetti reveals several flaws in Brunetti's character--some endearing, some disquieting, all intriguing. A man's body is found near a place popular with prostitutes. His legs and chest are shaved; his shoes are red, high-heeled and brand new. But what initially looks like the violent death of a transvestite whore may be a different sort of murder ineptly disguised: the victim is middle-aged, his body has been inexpertly shaved and his face is battered beyond recognition. In a tougher story than the previous Death at La Fenice, the Commissario's sensitivity is challenged by his dealings with demimonde creatures to whom he has not previously given much thought. A coincidence directs him, perhaps too easily, toward a villain who is soon covering tracks with more killing; lawyers, laundered money--and sodomy--also figure in the case's resolution. While struggling with his prejudices, Brunetti must hide his glee as the wife of his hated superior makes a highly visible departure into the arms of a famed pornographer. Venice takes on a deep noir tint in Leon's latest well-crafted work.