Saturday, 6 October 2012

A Question of Belief - Donna Leon

A Question of Belief is the 19th Commissario Brunetti novel but the first to swim into my ken.  It is very different to much contemporary Eurocrime - there is nothing noir about it, nor is it particularly a police procedural.  It certainly isn't a thriller - we're virtually a third of the way through before anybody dies.  Yet it is compelling, the compulsion to continue arising from the recognition that you are in the presence of extremely developed characters created by a writer utterly immersed in her world.

In some senses it is old fashioned, certainly more Wallander than Harry Hole.  Venice is baking in the summer heat.  Everybody at the Questura is either on holiday already or imminently about to go on holiday.  Ispettore Vianello is worried about his aunt who has fallen under the thrall of a dodgy fortune-teller.  Toni Brusca from the Commune has uncovered worrying procedural errors at the Tribunale de Vezetia.  Cases are being ludicrously and unnecessarily delayed.  One name keeps appearing on the court documents, the usher Araldo Fortuna, a career civil servant well on his way to retirement who leaves quietly at home with his mother.  Then Fortuna is found dead, his head bashed in and semen in his rectum.  Holidays abandoned, Brunetti, Vianello and the indispensable Signorina Elettra investigate.

The plotting is so defly done it pretty much constitutes slieght of hand.  There is never a hint of the manipulation you so often get with traditional detective fiction.

I shall certainly be investigating others in the series.

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