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Suffer the Little Children    by Donna Leon order for
Suffer the Little Children
by Donna Leon
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Let me begin by asking you a couple of questions: Who are you? Who are your parents? How can you prove any of these so-called facts? These questions and your answers (which you must carefully consider) serve as the thematic foundation for Donna Leon's sixteenth Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery.

When the action begins, an eighteen-month-old child is seized from his parents by a group of gun-wielding Carabinieri, and the badly beaten father of the child lies in a Venice hospital. Then Brunetti attempts to interview the hospitalized father in order to answer questions about how and why the child was removed from his home. After all, Brunetti is rather concerned because he has had experience with the Carabinieri - 'too many of them who loved bursting in an imposing their sudden, terrifying authority, as if Mussolini were still in power and no one to say them nay.' Brunetti soon runs into obstacles as he delves deeper into a complicated scandal involving illegal adoptions, duplicitous conduct, and 'the {questionable} bureaucratic process that {leads} to the creation of legal identity.'

With more twists and turns than a gondola trip from Ospesdale Civilie (where the beaten father recovers) to Staz. K. S. St. Lucia (where you must catch a train out of town in hopes of uncovering more evidence) via a stop at the box office at Teatro La Fenice (for no reason related to the story other than perhaps you do not want to miss the next performance of Mozart), the plot of Suffer the Little Children takes readers on a fascinating ride through Venice where deceit (personal and bureaucratic) and desperation (bureaucratic and personal) combine to make Brunetti's sixteenth outing an intriguing and provocative adventure. Enjoy!

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