Donna Leon opens doors to the hidden Venice like no one else. With her latest novel, Through a Glass, Darkly, Leon takes us inside the secretive island of Murano, home of the world-famous glass factories. On a luminous spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant Vianello play hooky from the Questura in order to help Vianello's friend Marco Ribetti, arrested during an environmental protest. They secure his release, only to be faced by the fury of the man's father-in-law, Giovanni De Cal, a cantankerous glass factory owner who has been heard in the bars of Murano making violent threats about Ribetti. Brunetti's curiosity is piqued, and he finds himself drawn to Murano to investigate. Is De Cal the type of man to carry out his threats? Then one morning the body of De Cal's night watchman is found. Over long lunches, on secret boat rides, in quiet bars, and down narrow streets, Brunetti searches for the killer. Will he unravel the clues before the night watchman's death is allowed to be forgotten?
A fascinating novel set in the intersection between tourism and native Venetian society, Through a Glass, Darkly is Donna Leon at her finest.
Last seen in Blood from a Stone (2005), Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates a murder on Murano, the famed island of glassmakers, in Leon's assured 15th mystery starring the cynical yet diligent Venetian policeman. Has a worker, found singed to death in front of a blazing furnace, been killed because of his environmental activism? Or is this a family feud between the factory's owner and his "green" engineer of a son-in-law? As usual, Leon educates the reader about the charms and corruptions of Italian life (the sensuality of the architecture and food, the indolence and stagnation of its bureaucracies), besides presenting a crash course in 21st-century glass-making. Every character, every line of dialogue, every descriptive passage rings true in a whodunit that's also travel essay, political commentary and existential monologue. And the middle-aged, happily married Brunetti remains unique--an everyman who's also extraordinary: "During his early years as a policeman... people still argued about whether it was right or wrong to use force during an interrogation.... Now they argued about how much pain they could inflict." (May)
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December 01, 2007
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