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Author: Donna Leon

Title: Drawing Conclusions

Publisher: William Heinemann

Hardback: 260 pages

ISBN: 978-0-4340-2143-7

Price: £16.99

Publication Date: 07/04/2011

Does anyone drink water in a Donna Leon novel [other than as a last resort]? It was a question that assailed me as I read through her latest – twentieth – Commissario Brunetti novel, Drawing Conclusions. Wine and coffee are quaffed in outrageous quantities – quite frankly I’m surprised that more Venetians don’t fall into the canals due to drunkenness or over-caffeinating themselves! And food is also consumed liberally; although less time is given in this book to descriptions of meals than is the norm in a Donna Leon novel [which is a real shame].

But, when he’s not eating, drinking or sleeping, Brunetti does find a little time to investigate the death of sexagenarian widow Costanza Altavilla – or, “the mother of my son’s former veterinarian” as Brunetti’s boss, Patta, refers to her at one point! The medical examiner, Dr Rizzardi, rules it as the result of a heart attack but Brunetti ‘feels’ that something isn’t quite right about Costanza’s death. Faint marks on her body suggest that she might have been grabbed. And as she worked with women who were the victim’s of violence and domestic abuse, Brunetti begins to wonder whether there could be a connection.

Set against a backdrop of police indifference and endemic corruption, Drawing Conclusions finds Brunetti at his most conflicted. Normally a scrupulously honest man – but one who recognises that justice and the law are not always the same thing – this book finds him both distressed and rather ambivalent to his fellow Venetians’ almost casual attitude towards corruption.

Indeed, after one brilliant and funny scene at the flower market, in which Signorina Elettra explains how she is going to get the Questra to pay for the flowers by substituting the receipt with a receipt for printer cartridges, Brunetti finds himself in an ethical quandary. He does not approve of Elettra’s bending and breaking of the rules, but at the same time he does – to a certain degree – understand that it is the way in which Venice operates. Furthermore, he knows that he often looks the other way when Elettra uses her hacking skills to get him information for a case.

Beautifully written, as you would expect from Leon, Drawing Conclusions was rounded up a little too neatly and quickly for my liking. But there is also something incredibly comforting about reading a new Commissario Brunetti novel [probably because I have read so many of them over the years], and this was no exception.
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