May 03, 2021sandraperkins rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
This is the 18th book in Donna Leon's wonderful series about Commissario Guido Brunetti of Venice. Reading this book was such a pleasure! It was like seeing old friends after a long separation. I love Brunetti, his colleagues at work, and his family. He is a fascinating, multi-faceted character.
And the city of Venice is another wonderful character in these books! This book includes a delightful multi-page description of a rare snowfall in Venice, which transforms the city and the people. I do not even like snow, and I was enthralled by this part of the book! Alas, the snow melts quickly, and things get back to normal. (Of course, people in Venice do not have to drive in the snow!)
Normal in Venice (and in Italy) includes lots of corruption in government and businesses, and of course, also includes organized crime. We in the US have experienced more of this in recent years, so we can not feel too superior. But it seems more common in Italy, and honest people like Brunetti are not able to do anything about it.
There are multiple discussions of Cicero’s writings in this book, and I loved this quote that Brunetti read to his wife Paola, about the “duty of the good consul” (Brunetti notes that this applies to all politicians):
“He must protect the lives and interests of the people, appeal to his fellow citizens’ patriotic interests, and in general, set the welfare of the community above his own.”
Paola’s reaction makes it clear she does not think Italy’s current politicians meet this standard. We have our ups and downs with politicians in the US, but I believe that there are some who meet Cicero’s standard.
As is usual in this series, this book has a couple of interesting and intriguing plots that turn out to be intertwined (including the illegal handling of hazardous waste). I really enjoy seeing how the various characters deal with the issues in the plot. This book has some particularly poignant interactions with Brunetti’s family, including his wealthy father-in-law and mother-in-law, who have been fairly minor characters in earlier books. And the characters that are unique to this book have depths that we do not expect.
And if you miss travel, this series will take you to Venice, and give you an inside look at what it is like to live there! That is a pretty good deal too!