Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A QUESTION OF BELIEF by Donna Leon (2010)

Picking up another mystery featuring the ever-gallant and charming Commissario Guido Brunetti is like finding a shaded patio on a blazing day in Venice with pitchers of chilled Sangria and a good book your only required company.

At the opening of A QUESTION OF BELIEF Brunetti is planning a trip with Paola and the children to the north of Italy where they will be able to wear sweaters in the evening and snuggle under eiderdowns and escape the baking heat that is their hometown in the height of the tourist season. And, Brunetti manages to pack for his trip and even get on the train out of Venice before the murder of a town clerk requires his return to the Questura to help solve the crime.

In addition to the murder, Brunetti has also agreed to help a colleague, Inspector Vianello, with a family problem. It seems Vianello's favourite aunt has been hoodwinked into giving large sums of cash to an astrologer who provides spiritual and health advice to the especially vulnerable aging population with guidance from the Tarot and the assistance of a corrupt, but doting, medical lab technician.

As usual, Brunetti has his hands full, and as usual his professorial wife has her nose in volumes of Henry James, or when she's feeling particularly sassy, his brother as well. In addition to providing an intelligent story, Leon also lingers in cafes and in restaurants and over family meals. Food is revered as much as the words used to describe it in scintillating detail.

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