Beastly Things

Donna Leon, Author
Donna Leon. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2023-6
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In bestseller Leon’s complex, contemplative 21st Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2011’s Drawing Conclusions), the Venetian police inspector must identify a man found stabbed to death and floating in a canal. Unusually, the victim suffered from a rare disease that disfigures the body and is linked to alcoholism, though the pathologist determines he wasn’t a drinker. Brunetti soon discovers that the man was a veterinarian, Andrea Nava, who also worked part-time at a slaughterhouse inspecting the health of the animals brought in by the local farmers. Despite his recent separation from his wife after a tryst with a co-worker, Nava appears to have been a compassionate human being. But when Brunetti visits the slaughterhouse and begins to examine how it operates, the inspector comes to some unsettling conclusions about the murdered man, the motive, and his own life. Leon deftly blends police procedural with philosophy and existential speculation. Her intimate descriptions of Venice, where she has lived for 30 years, lend color. (Apr.)
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