Commissario Guido Brunetti’s 15th adventure takes him to a Venetian glassworks where murder is the sordid by-product of beautifully blown baubles.
The case begins quietly enough. Inspector Lorenzo Vianello’s friend, ecologist Marco Ribetti, has been arrested during a protest at his father-in-law Giovanni De Cal’s fornace on Sacca Serenella. When Brunetti and Vianello persuade the Murano Questura to turn Ribetti loose, De Cal is waiting on the steps outside to abuse his son-in-law, who he’s convinced married his daughter only for her money. Seeking witnesses who heard De Cal threaten Ribetti, Brunetti is directed to night watchman Giorgio Tassini, who’s recently left De Cal’s employ and gone to work for the neighboring establishment Gianluca Fasano, a major player with political ambitions. But Brunetti’s investigation into De Cal’s threats is derailed by Tassini’s sudden, horrible death from a heat-induced heart attack while he was lying unconscious just outside the fornace. Fans of Leon’s suavely understated series will expect revelations of corruption that reaches much further out and higher up—perhaps even higher than Brunetti’s vain, incompetent superior, Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta, now angling for a job with Interpol—and they won’t be disappointed.
Even if the path from misdemeanors to monstrous felonies is less inevitable than in Brunetti’s best (Blood from a Stone, 2005), Leon shows once more why she has no serious rivals in the art of unfolding mysteries in which the killer’s identity is the least interesting detail.