BLOOD FROM A STONE: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

Donna Leon, Author . Atlantic Monthly $23 (276p) ISBN 978-0-87113-887-3

In this stunning novel, the 14th to feature the dogged, intuitive Venetian police detective Guido Brunetti (after 2004's Doctored Evidence ), Leon combines an engrossing, complex plot with an indictment of the corruption endemic to Italian society. The murder of an anonymous African street vendor, an inoffensive, possibly illegal Senegalese immigrant, explodes into a many-layered conundrum. Italian attitudes toward "Senegali" range from the bargain shoppers' approval of their harmless efforts to earn money selling knock-off accessories to legitimate merchants' outrage at competition from the cheaper goods. After Brunetti discovers uncut diamonds hidden in the victim's spartan room and evidence the room was searched, the Interior and Foreign Affairs Ministries take over the case and all of Brunetti's pertinent files, papers and computer disappear. Enraged, Brunetti sidesteps normal police procedures and taps into personal and professional sources, uncovering evidence linking the victim, the Angolan civil war, the Italian secret service and an industrial giant with government connections. Many of Leon's favorite characters appear, including the gourmand Brunetti's family, the obsequious Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta and Patta's irreverent secretary, Signorina Elletra. They balance this dark, cynical tale of widespread secrecy, violence and corruption. Agent, Susanne Bauknecht, Diogenes Verlag (Switzerland). (May 26)

Reviewed on: 03/21/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-434-01309-8
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