The second book in the mystery series about Venetsian Comissario Brunetti.

Publication year: 1993
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1998
Format: print
Page count: 317
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Otava
Finnish translator: Titia Schuurman

Early in the morning a body of a young man is found from a canal. Comissario Brunetti is called to the scene and he finds some American coins from the body’s pockets. So everyone thinks that the brutally stabbed body is an American. Brunetti’s boss Patta is worried that the incident could affect tourism or even American-Italian relations and wants Brunetti to close the case as soon as possible.

The body turns out to be an American soldier, Foster, from the nearby American army post. Foster’s superior comes to identify him – and the fact that his boss is a woman is something the Italians find hard to swallow. Despite being an army captain and a doctor, Foster’s boss throws up after seeing him, so Brunetti suspects that something was going on between them. He also doesn’t believe that Foster was killed in a simple robbery but his boss wants him to just dig up a covenient scapegoat and close the case.

At the same time, Brunetti has another case: a wealthy Italian business man was robbed. He saw the two or three robbers but not well enough to identify them but he knows which three paintings they took. Brunetti suspects that he’s not telling the truth but Patta is again more interested in closing the case quickly – and in a way that the business man wants.

This second book in the series brings to clear focus the level of corruption rampart in Venice. Patta is the prime example – he just wants to further his career and cares nothing about anything else. Fortunately, Brunetti can ”handle” him rather easily. The book also deals with toxic chemical dumping and the characters discuss the corruption in their governments. The canals have so dirty water that Brunetti doesn’t want to touch it.

Brunetti teams up with a Carabineri major from the American base and they talk some about how Americans and their habits are different from Venetian people and their habits. Immigration is also touched on. The characters and the setting feels very much true to life.

The end is realistic and so it’s quite possible that it’s not satisfactory to pure mystery readers. But it’s very much in character with the world we live in.

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