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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Donna Leon - Uniform Justice

 reviewed live on bookshow by Ro Bennett 25th April 2013

Thanks to Linda for recommending and lending me this book, I really enjoyed it. 
Commissario Brunetti returns for the twelfth novel in this best selling crime fiction series which I have sadly only just become aware of. It’s a gripping murder mystery which begins when a young cadet, Ernesto Moro, is found hanged at an elite military academy in Venice. 

There is a good deal of pressure to declare this as a straight forward suicide, however Brunetti has his doubts. The young man is the son of an ex-politician who has caused controversy as he has challenged corruption, so this gives one possible motive for murder as retaliation and revenge. 

Another strand could involve dubious practices in the exclusive Academy itself, but trying to pursue this proves tricky, as the military closes rank to protect its own and no one seems willing to talk to outsiders. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence which is suspicious in itself. 

Brunetti’s investigation is also constantly hampered by the machinations of wealth, arrogance and power; the deviance of politics, corruption and intrigue and is further complicated as the workings of the Italian legal system appear to clash with achieving justice. It’s all very frustrating. 

It's a really sad story, and the author doesn’t lose sight of the fact that murder and  violent death, is tragic, especially in the case of a young person.
I was interested also because the books are set in Venice which is a place which I have only visited briefly, once, but which captivated me. I would love to return. 

The author knows Venice well having lived there for thirty years. Previously she lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Whilst reading the book I could have done with a good map of Venice to follow Brunetti as he scurried from place to place.

I agree with other reviewers that it was probably the author’s personal views which were reflected in the discussions between Brunetti and his wife Paola about Italian politics, the military and the justice system. And these are not shown in a very good light in the book.  However I found it all very interesting and intriguing, but whether or not it is based on fact - who knows? The story is good and the characters believable and I would certainly read more of her books.

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