One of my favorite mystery and detective authors. I only started reading her books about 2 years ago and I quickly got hooked! This is #6 and I have 24 more of her books on my Kindle. You get a real feel for Venice and how police work is in Italy. Bruntetti is a wonderful character and throughout this series, we get to know his wife and two children, as well as his comrades at work. Not only a great lead character, but Leon also gives flesh to all these secondary characters who help make this one of the best mystery/detective series out there!
Each and every book by Donna Leon in her Commissario Brunetti explores another aspect of the greed and corruption that has become almost 2nd nature in Brunetti’s world. This time Leon takes a direct aim at the Catholic Church and even gets the secretive organization Opus Dei into the plot.
The book begins with Brunetti actually in charge of the police station as his boss, Vice-Questore Patta is on vacation. Not much is happening, crime seems to have also taken a break until one day a young lady barges her way into Brunetti’s office. She looks familiar, and yet he cannot place her. She knows him and her name is Maria Testa. Who is she, we finally find out she used to be Sister Immaculato who cared for Brunetti’s mother in the nursing home. But Maria Testa has left the order and now tells Brunetti a story of how patients at the home have been dying suspiciously (in her mind), due to heart attacks when they had no heart issues and has heard whispers that these people are being coerced into changing their wills and giving all their money either to the church home, or some other church organization. She has nothing to back up this claim. She merely ran away and began a new life in the world she left over a decade ago.
Brunetti has no idea what to do to try and act on her suspicions other than some cursory inquiries which come up empty. But he is bothered by this, and this leads to a large portion of the first half of the book in which Leon examines Brunetti and his wife Paola’s religious beliefs, along with their daughter’s bad grade in religious instruction at school. Things really go nowhere until Maria is injured in a hit-and-run incident and relatives of the deceased also turn up dead. There are evil Mother Superiors, corrupt church officials and priests, and also some seeming involvement in all of this by Opus Dei. Brunetti and his fellow officers have to try and untangle these secrets.
Book 6 brings more involvement with fellow officers Lorenzo Vianello along with smart, savvy, and computer expert secretary Elettra Zorzi. This is wonderful because these two have become valuable sidekicks and helpers who were seriously missed in Book 5.
As always, well written and immerses us in the culture, tradition, beauty, and seedy side of Venice!