Uniform Justice: (Brunetti)

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9780099415176: Uniform Justice: (Brunetti)

Neither Commissario Brunetti nor his wife Paolo have ever had much sympathy for the Italian armed forces, so when a young cadet is found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice's elite military academy, Brunetti's emotions are complex: pity and sorrow for the death of a boy, close in age to his own son, and contempt and irritation for the arrogance and high-handedness of the boy's teachers and fellow-students. The young man is the son of a doctor and former politician, a man of an impeccable integrity all too rare in Italian politics. Dr Moro is clearly and understandably devastated by his son's death; but neither appears at all keen to talk to the police nor involve Brunetti in any investigation of the circumstances in which he died. As Brunetti - and the indispensable Signorina Elettra - investigate further they are faced by a wall of silence, as the military protects its own and civilians are unwilling to talk. Is this the natural reluctance of Italians to involve themselves with the authorities, or is Brunetti facing a conspiracy of silence?

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Review:

Uniform Justice, the latest outing for Donna Leon's creation, Commissario Brunetti, is a prime example of Leon's non pareil scene-setting and brilliantly wrought plots, which often take their own sweet time to establish an inexorable grip. After the death in the first few pages that sets the narrative in progress, the reader (and Brunetti) has to crack a particularly knotty puzzle. Did the young cadet at a prestigious military school die at his own hand, or was it murder? And, if his death was self-inflicted, was it intentional or accidental?

The boy's parents are separated, and Brunetti learns that his mother was the victim of a shooting some years ago. Further, the boy's sister has disappeared. At the military school, Brunetti encounters a polite wall of silence, but that's nothing new for him, and this resourceful Italian copper thrives on unsolvable crimes. This time, however, the complex mystery he encounters lends itself to no easy solution. The heady brew here yokes in high-level corruption involving Italian army procurement and the allegation of transgressive sexual practices.

As ever, Leon juggles these elements with consummate skill, and it's a given that the Venetian setting is as impeccably conjured as ever. The treatment of Brunetti is fresh, too: the frustration and intransigence he struggles with are particularly counterpointed by his identification with the case--Brunetti has a son of the same age as the dead boy. But what's notably pleasing here is Donna Leon's refusal to tie everything up in a too-neat and orderly fashion. Its messy compromises are much more like real life than the contrivances of most crime novels. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

"'Leon's Venice-set crime series... have depth and a wonderful sense of place... Leon's Venice has hidden menace.'" ( Bournemouth Daily Echo)

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Leon, Donna
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