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Doctored Evidence: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Hardcover – March 3, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While a bit too slow to rank among her best, Leon's 13th atmospheric Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2003's Uniform Justice) still offers many pleasures, including a clever puzzle. When greedy, curmudgeonly Maria Grazia Battestini is murdered, the Venetian police suspect her Romanian housekeeper, whom they shoot when she tries to evade questioning. The case seems closed until a neighbor returns from a trip, claiming the housekeeper's innocence. Hardworking, cynical Brunetti, devoted to his family, succulent meals and justice, an honest man in a corrupt police department, takes over the case. He finds that Battestini's several bank accounts were transferred out of Italy upon her death, the source of the money unknown. Brunetti suspects that her lawyer, Roberta Marieschi, and niece, Graziella Simionato, who shared power of attorney, were in cahoots and that the money came from blackmail. After several false leads and assiduous attention to detail, Brunetti discovers the key to the crime—pride, rather than greed, with the title a pun on the motive—meanwhile one-upping his workplace enemy, the ambitious, careless Lieutenant Scarpa. Leon evokes the real Venice, not the place of romantic novels or glitzy travel guides but the gritty, inbred city of dishonest politicians and hamlet-like neighborhoods filled with gossip.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Leon's devoted American fans endured a seven-year wait before Uniform Justice and Noble Radiance landed on our shores last year. Hardly any waiting this time, as Guido Brunetti makes a quick reappearance, once again embroiled in a case whose moral ambiguities weigh heavily on the beleaguered but warm-hearted Venice cop. An extremely unpleasant elderly woman, the scourge of her neighborhood, has been savagely murdered, and her Romanian housekeeper, herself killed while running from the police, has been tagged as the obvious perp. The facts don't add up, however, and Brunetti, over his superiors' objections, won't close the case. A familiar crime-fiction premise, to be sure, but Leon, as always, looks for nuance behind the formula. She finds it in the victim's relatives, all severely flawed figures but all sharing a bedrock humanity that resists caricature, and, of course, she finds it in Brunetti's lovingly detailed but never sentimentalized family life--always the greatest source of pleasure in a series that reminds us again and again just what "character-driven" really means. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (March 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139184
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,190,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A New Yorker of Irish/Spanish descent, Donna Leon first went to Italy in 1965, returning regularly over the next decade or so while pursuing a career as an academic in the States and then later in Iran, China and finally Saudi Arabia. Leon has received both the CWA Macallon Silver Dagger for Fiction and the German Corrine Prize for her novels featuring Commisario Guido Brunetti. She lives in Venice.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker on March 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Last year, the publication of US ex-pat Donna Leon's Uniform Justice - about a murder in an Italian military academy - marked her much-lauded return to the American stage after 7 years. (They ceased to be published originally because she believed the way her publishers were marketing her books was "vulgar".) The rest of the world over, she has been a regular feature on the bestseller lists, and determined American fans have only been able to acquire foreign copies. Thankfully, that is now slowly changing. Why thankfully? Because her Commissario Guido Brunetti series, set in her adopted home-city of Venice, is one of the most enjoyable currently being produced. It is a huge big sparkling gem in the crown of crime fiction - it is a treasure trove of pure enjoyment.
Doctored Evidence is the 13th in the award-winning series, and just as good as all the rest. An unpleasant old-woman is found murdered in her apartment by her doctor. She was not liked. Treating her maids no better than slaves, and keeping her television on loud almost every night are just two of the behaviours which alienate her from her neighbours. Suspicion immediately falls on her Romanian maid, who is missing and heading back to her country. As the police catch up with her at a train station on the border, she flees in desperation, and is killed as she runs across the tracks into the path of a train.
Finding a large amount of money on her person, they believe they've found their woman. That is, until one of the victim's neighbours returns from a business trip in London, with strong evidence to suggest that she was not the killer. The investigating officer dismisses her, passing her off to Brunetti, who starts to investigate the case unofficially, and uncovers a mystery far more complex than the one they all suspected.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Dom Miliano VINE VOICE on July 23, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love mysteries and Italy so Donna Leon's work is definitely on my radar. I bought this edition to read on the plane to Europe a few weeks back. It was a smart choice because it led me to drive from Monaco to San Romolo for a perfectly delicious 6 course lunch. Leon uses the City's heat and the ever-present Italian politics to create a tense and thick atmosphere. The plot - the murder of a decidely unpleasant old women - seems simple enough. But she is hated by literally everyone so the list of suspects is long. Leon hints at the motive through conversations between the great detective and his wife. But they are subtle and when you "get it" you realize the depth of Donna Leon's skill. The sub plots always involve Venetian politics, the stupidity of governments and the need to find sanity in small things like a good meal and a decent bottle of wine. This is a perfect fix for those out there addicted to arm-chair travel and murder mysteries.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's more than a "lucky 13" for Donna Leon. "Doctored Evidence" is a carefully-crafted, purposefully-written, and fully-fulfilling (typical!) Leon police procedural featuring my favorite Italian, Commissario Guido Brunetti.
The erstwhile policeman has been on holiday to Ireland when the death occurs (A Romanian cleaning woman supposedly murdered her employer and made off with a large sum of money, only to be apprehended at a border crossing; before police can take her into custody, she bolts and is killed by an on-coming train)and when he returns he has already dismissed the case, which he'd read about in the papers, as merely a "cut and dried" episode in the life of the police in Venice.
Of course, the death of the cleaning woman has suspicious and unusual circumstances and shortly after Brunetti returns to work, a neighbor of the dead woman reports to the police that she has proof that the woman is innocent. This, of course, really peaks Brunetti's interest and from that point on, Donna Leon is, well, Donna Leon.
Before the case is closed, of course, readers once again witness the inter-play between Brunetti and his associates, his family, and his beloved Venice. Leon is not shy about taking literary pot shots at a number of socially significant issues facing not only the Venezians, the Italians, but the rest of the world.
Step by step, Leon takes us to the conclusion, where, of course it's no secret, Brunetti's intellect, talent, and good will once more triumph.
"Doctored Evidence" continues the Leon reputation. What a fascinating series Leon has created. Tis a pity one has to wait a year for the next episode.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mindy Robertson on April 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For all her "baker's dozen" Guido Brunetti books, Donna Leon continues to amaze this reader with her ability to sustain a police procedural so competently, so willingly, and so fantastically.
It's Venice once again and the good Commissario finds himself lured into what appears to be a routine case: a "foreigner" has been apprehended for murder and theft and before the police can secure her, she bolts and is run over by an oncoming train. A simple case. Case closed.

Ah, but here is where Brunetti comes in. Certain suspicious elements emerge and within a few minutes, he's completely immersed into the whole scene.
Along the way, Donna Leon incorporates several socially significant issues (as she always does) that serve only to enhance the plot outline. Her critique on Venezian politics and life in general in that Pearl of the Adriatic stand on their own merit.
Once again, Leon's brilliance at creating memorable characters make this just routine for her: but for her readers, each volume is a true adventure in itself.
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