Neither Commissario Brunetti nor his wife Paolo have ever had much sympathy for the Italian armed forces, so when a young cadet is found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice's elite military academy, Brunetti's emotions are complex: pity and sorrow for the death of a boy, close in age to his own son, and contempt and irritation for the arrogance ...
Neither Commissario Brunetti nor his wife Paolo have ever had much sympathy for the Italian armed forces, so when a young cadet is found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice's elite military academy, Brunetti's emotions are complex: pity and sorrow for the death of a boy, close in age to his own son, and contempt and irritation for the arrogance and high-handedness of the boy's teachers and fellow-students. The young man is the son of a doctor and former politician, a man of an impeccable integrity all too rare in Italian politics. Dr Moro is clearly and understandably devastated by his son's death; but neither appears at all keen to talk to the police nor involve Brunetti in any investigation of the circumstances in which he died. As Brunetti - and the indispensable Signorina Elettra - investigate further they are faced by a wall of silence, as the military protects its own and civilians are unwilling to talk. Is this the natural reluctance of Italians to involve themselves with the authorities, or is Brunetti facing a conspiracy of silence?
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Donna Leon has indicated that she writes these books for her own amusement. She also refuses to have them sold in Italy; she's not interested in being a ?personality.?
Boy was she in a melancholy mood when she wrote UNIFORM JUSTICE! Although there are several instances of the wry Leon wit throughout the book, the book seems filled with despair. Each of Leon's books makes an effort to harpoon something lamentable that ?the Americans? are doing. But this book takes a sharp look at the pervasive corruption in Italy.
The author uses a Venetian military academy for young men as the backdrop for this tragic tale. As the story begins, a young 17 year-old, only son of a prominent Venetian physician is hanging in a shower stall. Although Vice-Questore Patta wants to close the case quickly by accepting the easy answer of ?death by suicide,? Brunetti is not so certain.
As he delves deeper into the history of Dr. Moro's aborted career in politics, Brunetti becomes more certain that Ernesto Moro was murdered. The sad facts that emerge about the Moro family swirl about in a chilly Venetian winter. The whole aura is one of gloom and depression.
It is particularly sad to watch Guido Brunetti work within a corrupt system to find the truth. Guido and his charming family remind us that it is possible to remain honest ? even when surrounded by rampant theft, bribery and murder.
In many books I read, the author gets caught up in the police procedures to the point that the victim (especially the horror of a violent death) is lost. Leon, through the use of a brilliant ending, brings the true horror of the loss of a young life back to face the reader!
The reason I did not give this novel a 5 star rating is that the author spent a bit too much time on her hobby-horse of political views. Although I agree with the wisdom of many of her ideas, Leon spent too much time sharing them in a work of fiction.
1. Death at La Fenice
2. Death in a Strange Country
3. The Anonymous Venetian (aka Dressed for Death)
4. A Venetian Reckoning (aka Death and Judgment)
5. Acqua Alta (aka Death in High Water)
6. The Death of Faith (aka Quietly in Their Sleep)
7. A Noble Radiance
8. Fatal Remedies
9. Friends in High Places
10. A Sea of Troubles
11. Willful Behavior
12. Uniform Justice
Publishers Weekly, 2003-08-04 In this superb novel, Leon's latest in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series (A Noble Radiance, etc.), the Venetian police detective and family man is summoned to the exclusive San Martino Military Academy, where Cadet Ernesto Moro has been found dead, hanging in the lavatory. The other cadets and the academy brass give a chilly reception to any "civilians" who trespass into their midst, including the Venetian police. Believing Cadet Moro was the victim of homicide rather than suicide, Brunetti traces a sinister trail that leads to the dead boy's father, a doctor-turned-politician who once revealed then ducked the ramifications of a military procurement scandal. This is not the Venice of Thomas Mann or Henry James-the palazzos, gondoliers and Doges' monuments are all but overlooked. Leon's city is winter-cold and gray, with corruption rather than gilt glinting through the fog, and a culture in the grip of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy that runs on secrets and bribes. Humane and intelligent, a good man working in an impossible system, Brunetti displays an acerbic, economical wisdom. The plot flows along like the Adriatic tide through a narrow canal-swift, none-too-clean and inevitable. This is an outstanding book, deserving of the widest audience possible, a chance for American readers to again experience a master practitioner's art. (Sept. 29) Forecast: A 50,000-copy first printing and a $75,000 promotional budget, plus a contest aimed at booksellers and librarians for a free trip for two to Venice, will help raise the profile of an author who hasn't been published in the U.S. since 1996. European reviewers consistently put Leon in the same class as Ruth Rendell and Patricia Highsmith, and American critics should start doing the same. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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