Just back from an archeological expedition to China's Xi'an dig, Brett Lynch is relaxing in the apartment of her lover, La Scala diva Flavia Petrelli, when two men knock at the door, matter-of-factly beat her, and warn her not to keep her appointment with Dottore Semenzato, director of the Palazzo Ducale, until recently the Venetian home of Brett's Xi'an finds. Brett survives her ordeal (two broken ribs, one cracked jaw), but it doesn't matter: A few days later, before she can talk her way out of the hospital, somebody visits the Palazzo Ducale and leaves Semenzato dead. Can Vice-Commissaire Guido Brunetti doubt that it was the same pair of thugs, or that their courtesies cast grave doubt on the authenticity of the Xi'an treasures, and the ""accidental"" verdict on the death back on the dig of Brett's assistant? And can Brunetti doubt that the power behind this nefarious plot is much-arrested Salvatore La Capra's wealthy collector father? Sadly, there's not enough doubt to make much ado over, leaving Brunetti's fifth (Death and Judgment, 1995, etc.) the most routine of a generally fine Venetian series.