Uniform Justice: (Brunetti 12)

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9780099415176: Uniform Justice: (Brunetti 12)

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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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