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BLOOD FROM A STONE by Donna Leon Kirkus Star


From the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, volume 14

by Donna Leon

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-87113-887-5
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Commissario Guido Brunetti’s 14th case (Doctored Evidence, 2004, etc.) may be his best yet—not that he’d see it that way himself.

The murder is so commonplace that the victim isn’t even dignified with a name. He’s just the black man placidly selling designer luggage off a sheet spread at Venice’s Campo Santo Stefano, his life ended by five shots fired by two equally unruffled killers who give every sign of being professionals. Despite the crowds of potential witnesses, nobody’s seen anything, nobody knows anything, and there’s no evidence of anything until Brunetti’s painstaking investigation leads him to a box of salt with no reason for being in an empty house. Just as he’s beginning to make real progress, however, he’s abruptly warned off the case by Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta, his complacent, incompetent boss. Maybe the reason is simple racism of the sort Brunetti’s own daughter Chiara displays when she says dismissively that the victim “wasn’t one of us.” But maybe there are sterner forces behind the warning: interference from what Brunetti, en route to an understanding powerless to bring about justice, calls “governmental, ecclesiastical, and criminal” forces, reflecting, “The great tragedy of his country  . . . was how equal they were as contenders.”

Leon’s most adroit balance of teasing mystery, Brunetti’s droll battles with his co-workers and higher-ups, and intimations of something far deeper and darker behind the curtain.