cover image Give unto Others

Give unto Others

Donna Leon. Atlantic Monthly, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5940-3

The specter of Covid-19 hangs over Venice in bestseller Leon’s low-key 31st outing for Italian police detective Guido Brunetti (after 2021’s Transient Desires). Well-to-do Elisabetta Foscarini, who was a neighbor of Brunetti when they were teenagers, is concerned about her daughter, Flora, a veterinarian. Flora’s accountant husband, Enrico Fenzo, has been acting strangely, and Signora Foscarini fears “he’s doing something bad.” Rather than suggesting she hire a private investigator, Brunetti agrees to break the rules and put his career in jeopardy to help her. At first, Brunetti suspects one of Enrico’s clients may be threatening him in some way. When Flora’s veterinary clinic is vandalized, the case begins inching in a more sinister direction. The usual snippets of history, philosophical musings, and clear-eyed comments on Italian behavior and culture, plus talk of flagging tourism and closing businesses, help compensate for the pallid plot, in which the only bloodshed is a big dog tearing off the ear of a little dog at the vet clinic. Established fans will enjoy spending time with the charming Brunetti, but this isn’t the place to start for newcomers. Agent: Susanne Bauknecht, Diogenes Verlag (Switzerland). (Mar.)