Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Friends in High Places by Donna Leon

When Donna Leon writes about Venice, you feel like you are there. Her description of places and people almost makes you smell the salt of the sea. The opening of this mystery we find Commissario Brunetti told by a representative from the Ufficio Catasto that the apartment that his family live in doesn’t exist. This leads to Leon’s use of the corruption of Venice as a drive for what happens in the book. As the title says, if you know the right people, then little things such as an apartment addition that didn’t go through the proper government channels can be overlooked.

Leon plays with the idea of what is just calling in a few favours and what is letting something slide that is criminal. Brunetti’s father-in-law is called in by Paola to do something about the apartment. His contacts handle the problem very quickly. But Brunetti isn’t happy because he wanted to fix the problem. But does it really matter, would one person’s favour calling be any different then an others?

Corruption is rife in the book. Vice-Questore Patta, Brunetti’s superior, has a son arrested for selling drugs. Brunetti’s trying to figure out where a young man, who died from an overdose, bought the drugs. But Brunetti puts Patta’s son in danger with an planted article in the local newspaper. Patta makes Brunetti call up the paper and say that the problem has now been sorted. So the death of the young man is forgotten so that Patta’s son can walk free.

Another case of corruption is when the representative from the Ufficio Catasto, Rossi, that contacted Brunetti about his apartment, is killed because he was going to tell Brunetti about corruption in his department. Two drug addicts who witness the crime are also killed. All so that one man can be protected from scandal.

This is a very good read. In fact all of her books are very good. Brunetti and his family are very close and intelligently written. You really like them as a couple, they work hard at their marriage. The returning characters are well drawn. The description of Italian food makes me want to go make myself a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad! Definitely give her a try. She is a stunning writer! I would say that each of the books stand alone, though I have enjoyed reading them in order myself.

Death at La Fenice (1992)

Death in a Strange Country (1993)

Dressed for Death (1994)

Death and Judgment (1996)

Acqua Alta (1996)

The Death of Faith (1997)

A Noble Radiance (1998.)

Fatal Remedies (1999)

Friends in High Places (2000)

A Sea of Troubles (2001)

Wilful Behaviour (2002)

Uniform Justice (2003)

Doctored Evidence (2004)

Blood from a Stone (2005)

I’m reading another great book at the moment from Anna Kavan. I can’t wait to introduce you to her….though I must finish the book first and then let you know about her!


Rob said...

Thanks for this. I've been meaning to try reading Donna Leon for ages ... now I'm one step closer!

Elaine said...

I discovered Donna Leon last year and ended up reading all of them in one mad binge over four weeks. I think they are excellent