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Death and Judgment    by Donna Leon order for
Death and Judgment
by Donna Leon
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2009 (1995)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Also known by the alternate title A Venetian Reckoning, and originally published in 1995, Death and Judgment, the fourth of seventeen in Donna Leon's superb Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series has been reissued by Penguin. And that is good news because any opportunity to read a Guido Brunetti mystery is reason for celebration. So, without further preliminaries, here is what you can expect from Death and Judgment.

First, you must realize that you never know who you can believe. That is the lesson Commissario Guido Brunetti has learned repeatedly during his long career with the police in Venice, Italy. Now - when Carlo Trevisan, a prominent attorney, is murdered on a train traveling from Padua to Venice - Brunetti is ordered by his superiors to solve the case quickly and discreetly, and Brunetti will once again confront the problem: who can you believe? Then - in an apparently unrelated incident, within a week of the Trevisan murder - an accountant is killed in nearby Padua. Investigators, however, soon discover Trevisan's phone number - and many other puzzling phone numbers - among the accountant's records.

No one seems to understand the connection between Trevisan and the accountant, but - in a fortuitous discovery that brings the case uncomfortably close to Brunetti himself - the Venetian detective begins to put together the puzzling coincidences and clues: Finally, though, Brunetti discovers an enormously important and shocking clue in which people are involved in acts of unspeakable savagery and unforgivable brutality. Now, with the stakes having been suddenly raised to such horrible levels, Brunetti must look beyond Venice and Italy - perhaps even to Eastern Europe and beyond - and he must act quickly to prevent further violence and murder.

In Death and Judgment, author Donna Leon, pulling out all the stops, has combined an engrossing plot, multifaceted characterizations, and intriguing themes in a cinematic narrative that takes readers to one of the world loveliest cities. However, the canals, neighborhoods, and citizens of Venice are in danger of being tarnished by unspeakable corruption, villainy, and deviance. Fortunately, though, the sophisticated and passionate, shrewd and witty Commissario Guido Brunetti is one of crime fiction's most interesting and accomplished detectives. So, in the end, we need not worry at all about Venice because all's well that ends well, and - because of Brunetti - all in Death and Judgment ends very well indeed.

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