Drawing Conclusions

Donna Leon, Atlantic Monthly, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1979-7
Leon's fine 20th Commisario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2010's A Question of Belief) explores violence against women and the treatment of the elderly. The Venetian medical examiner has ruled that Costanza Altavilla, a widow in her 60s, died of a heart attack, but Brunetti has his doubts. The discovery of several changes of clothes in various sizes in the deceased's modest apartment and Brunetti's talks with the insightful Signorina Elettra reveal that Altavilla was running a safe house for women escaping domestic violence. Could one of the abusive men have confronted Altavilla and scared her to death? Brunetti's investigation takes him to an old-age home, where Altavilla volunteered, in search of answers. Leon provides a vivid view of Venice, balancing the city's "glory days" with the reality of "the flaking dandruff of sun-blasted paint peeling from shutters." Compassionate yet incorruptible, Brunetti knows that true justice doesn't always end in an arrest or a trial. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/14/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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