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Book 18, in Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series

Donna Leon's novels draw attention to the corruption, the incompetence and the depravity of a society where government agencies live alongside criminal gangs and one may only wonder which one is worst...This latest novel deals with national and international waste-disposal businesses that are riddled with corruption. For those who are fans of Donna Leon novels, this one has no surprise.

The story opens with Brunetti and his wife Paola invited to a dinner meeting at Paola's parents. Amongst the guests is Maurizio Cataldo who has asked Conte Falier( Brunetti's father in law) to invest in a venture in China. Conte Falier's hidden agenda is to have Brunetti investigate this businessman's background. At the dinner Brunetti is strategically seated next to Franca Marinello, Cataldo's wife, a charming woman whose face has been disfigured by botched cosmetic surgery. Guido is intrigued by her life experiences....

Back at work the next day Brunetti's new interest is scuttled by his boss Vice Questore Patta who has other plans for him and would like him to assist the Carabinieri in Marghera on their investigation into the local transport businesses. One of the owners has been killed and they suspect organised crime. In Venice, the environment has reached a crisis, garbage is pilling up and Brunetti soon finds himself in a toxic world where illegal hauling of garbage and violence go hand in hand.

In this latest novel we have an abundance of background information and a lot of attention is given to the relationship between Brunetti and his family. Some is required to set the scenes but there is a limit, it tends to take the focus away from the core of the story: the garbage fiasco, the murders and the mystery behind Franca disfigurement. I found this novel lacking in mystery and criminology compared to her previous novels.

Being a big fan of Donna Leon and having read all of her previous novels I am left somewhat disappointed with this one.
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