From Publishers Weekly
Leon's fine 20th Commisario Guido Brunetti mystery (after 2010's A Question of Belief) explores violence against women and the treatment of the elderly. The Venetian medical examiner has ruled that Costanza Altavilla, a widow in her 60s, died of a heart attack, but Brunetti has his doubts. The discovery of several changes of clothes in various sizes in the deceased's modest apartment and Brunetti's talks with the insightful Signorina Elettra reveal that Altavilla was running a safe house for women escaping domestic violence. Could one of the abusive men have confronted Altavilla and scared her to death? Brunetti's investigation takes him to an old-age home, where Altavilla volunteered, in search of answers. Leon provides a vivid view of Venice, balancing the city's "glory days" with the reality of "the flaking dandruff of sun-blasted paint peeling from shutters." Compassionate yet incorruptible, Brunetti knows that true justice doesn't always end in an arrest or a trial. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* Leon�s twentieth novel starring Venetian police commissario Guido Brunetti is one of her best. But why? Not because she breaks new ground, either in terms of the characters or the story. This tale of the murder of a retired teacher who was helping abused women escape their abusers offers a sensitive but never by-the-numbers exploration of a contemporary social problem, as do many of the other novels in the series, and it takes plenty of breaks between the crime-solving to portray fan favorite Brunetti the family man, interacting joyously with his wife and children. It also delivers a typically Leon-style ambiguous ending in which traditional justice is either less important than or even detrimental to Brunetti�s real concern: doing his best to set things right for the various troubled souls he encounters in the course of his investigation. So what makes the book stand out? It�s simply this: Brunetti walks around Venice a lot in this novel, and when he walks, he muses. And when he muses, the reader listens almost hypnotically, transfixed by the somehow ennobling ordinariness of this remarkable man�s humanity but also by the subtlety of his mind and his absolute refusal to succumb to the tyranny of bureaucrats and moralists. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Leon�s popularity among mystery fans has grown steadily, but over the last several years, she has become a must-read for all those who favor character-driven crime stories. She is especially popular in libraries and among librarian mystery readers. --Bill Ott