cover image Dressed for Death

Dressed for Death

Donna Leon. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (278pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017795-9

The third in Leon's richly evocative mysteries set in Venice and starring police Commissario Guido Brunetti reveals several flaws in Brunetti's character--some endearing, some disquieting, all intriguing. A man's body is found near a place popular with prostitutes. His legs and chest are shaved; his shoes are red, high-heeled and brand new. But what initially looks like the violent death of a transvestite whore may be a different sort of murder ineptly disguised: the victim is middle-aged, his body has been inexpertly shaved and his face is battered beyond recognition. In a tougher story than the previous Death at La Fenice, the Commissario's sensitivity is challenged by his dealings with demimonde creatures to whom he has not previously given much thought. A coincidence directs him, perhaps too easily, toward a villain who is soon covering tracks with more killing; lawyers, laundered money--and sodomy--also figure in the case's resolution. While struggling with his prejudices, Brunetti must hide his glee as the wife of his hated superior makes a highly visible departure into the arms of a famed pornographer. Venice takes on a deep noir tint in Leon's latest well-crafted work. (June)