Set against the familiar background of Italian corruption at all levels, The Temptation of Forgiveness is our 27th police procedural in the erudite company of Commissario Guido Brunetti.
When a man is found badly injured after a late night attack on the steps of one of Venice’s many bridges, the victim’s wife turns out to be one of Paola’s colleagues, who’d recently spoken with Brunetti concerning her son’s suspected use of drugs.
As Brunetti and his colleagues – Commissario Griffoni, Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra – investigate, preconceptions and prejudices come into play, and moral dilemmas abound.
An early encounter with Guido Brunetti. Carlo Trevisan, a leading Venetian lawyer, is found murdered on a train on its return to Venice.
Things get uncomfortable at home when Brunetti learns that his teenage daughter Chiara was at school with Trevisan’s daughter, and asks her to help him find out more about the family – much to Paola’s anger.
Brunetti is asked to investigate the attack on the teenage grand daughter of Contessa Lando-Continui, a friend of his parents-in-law, which left Manuela with a mental age of 6-7 …. 15 years ago.
With the by now familiar an not strictly by the book assistance from Signora Elettra, and with Commissario Claudia Griffoni as his co-investigator rather than trusty Vianello, we see Brunetti comfortable working in a predominantly female context, and see Venice through female eyes.
Spring arrives in Venice and Commissario Brunetti is called in to investigate the vandalism and theft of illustrations from rare books, and entire books themselves from the Biblioteca Merula.
The library’s collection reflects its heritage and home – Venice – where Aldus Manutius‘ set up a printing press which during the late 15th and early 16th century published ancient Greek and Latin books, many in an innovative pocket size, which percolated across Renaissance Europe and beyond courtesy of the Republic of Venice‘s great trading empire.
With able assistance from Ispettore Vianello, Signorina Elettra, Commissario Griffoni, Boatman Foa, Officer Pucetti, the Venetian police track down “a thief and a blackmailer, a liar and a fraud”.
I enjoyed By Its Cover far more than Falling In Love. More of Brunetti’s musings, more time – but not too much! – with his immediate family, the aristocratic Falier inlaws, and friends.
Some lovely quotes too –
“Old books has always filled Brunetti with nostalgia for centuries in which he had not lives. They were printed on paper made from old cloth, shredded, pounded, watered down and pounded again and hand-made into large sheets to be printed, then folded and folded again, and bound and stitched by hand: all that effort to record and remember who we are and what we thought,Brunetti mused. He remembered loving the feel and heft of them, but chiefly he remembered that dry, soft scent, the past’s attempt to make itself real to him.” page 11
About the joys of Spring:
“As had happened to him since boyhood, Brunetti felt a surge of directionless goodwill towards everything and everyone around him, as at the end of a period of emotional hibernation.” page 84