Getting old

Alto-Adige, Italy
I've always enjoyed Donna Leon's Brunetti mysteries set in Venice. Leon is excellent at location setting, and her central characters are great. However, the last couple of mysteries I've read, I've enjoyed rather less. We seem to have moved away from the superb construction of her early novels glowingly reviewed here. Later novels have been, well, odd. From rants about ecology and Italian politics to a novel where nothing much seems to happen.

A question of belief is set at the height of a Venetian heat wave. Brunetti is desperate to go on holiday with his family to the cool hills of the Alto Adige, but fate intervenes when a likeable, quiet civil servant, who appears to have got himself involved in some judicial villainy is found dead. Meanwhile Vianello, Brunetti's junior, has his own problems when his aunt becomes besotted with a very dodgy astrologer.

This is all set up to be a great mystery novel, but the ending is such an anti-climax because nothing really happens. The crime itself is a sordid affair, the corruption continues, and the dodgy astrologer gets away with his crimes. This is probably an all too real reflection of everyday life. I'm sure policemen have loads of stories about the one who got away, but as a crime novel it leaves the reader wondering what was the point of the whole novel. As a reflection on life today it's probably relevant, as a novel it doesn't work.

Sadly much as I have loved Brunetti, I think the series is getting stale. Such a shame.


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