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My manager has a passion for Donna Leon's books and whenever were not talking about work she's talking and singing the praises of this author. So a couple of months ago I read 'Doctored Evidence', just to keep on the right side of her and find out why she was making such a fuss about her.
About the author:
Donna Leon has lived in Venice for many years. It is a place she writes about and clearly it is a city she loves with a passion. She has so far written 16 crime novels and which nine have involved Commissario Brunetti. Amongst her awards has been the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for fiction.
About the book:
Following the hospitalization of a paediatric Commissarrio Brunetti is called from his bed to investigate. However, once there things are not as they seem as the Doctor has been attacked and his skull fractured by the Carabinieri (Secret Police).
They had broken into the man's house and taken away his eighteen month old Son, who is believed to have been illegally adopted from a lady in Albania. The Carabinieri are very unwilling to co-operate or even share any information with the Police about this operation. Who has given them the authority to do this? And does Brunetti have the jurisdiction to investigate this matter?
He is soon not only trying to uncover the truth in this complicated matter but also involved in digging and trying to find information about an illegal money making scheme. This involves pharmacists making bogus appointments for Doctors sometimes with dead clients.
My thoughts on this book:
My expectations for this book were quite low as I had read one of Donna Leon's novels previously and not really enjoyed it. However I was pleasantly surprised as I found this book gripping and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It was set as all her books are in Venice and I have started to learn more through the author about this fascinating city.
I think what made the big difference for me was the storyline. It was such a thought proving and interesting subject of children being snatched by the Secret Police causing friction between them and the local Police. Not to mention the investigation to find out if the children were illegally adopted and the problems infertile couples experience that the story flowed well and with real purpose.
The author dealt with this sensitive issue with compassion and a lot of understanding. Presenting the issues affecting all sides in the buying and selling of little children with thought and insight. Indeed, for me there was no need to bring in the other investigation into the money making scam. As the book could have solely concentrated on the issue of 'buying babies' and made a far more in-depth and fascinating story, as the author had all the ingredients in her plan.
That said I still found it slightly annoying that the author spent quite a lot of time dealing with the Brunetti's home life and his conversations with his wife and children. I in the main found these unnecessary and irrelevant and detracted from the story itself.
The author's writing style is excellent. She is very good at describing a scene or particularly a place that helps the reader visualise the situation perfectly. She also deals with Italian politics and the sense of corruption in the whole of Italian government with amazing insight and understanding.
The author's characters too are well described and developed. I think it helped me to have read one of her books before as I knew quite a lot about their characters and their inter-personal relationships with each other. I did particularly enjoy the interaction between Commisario Brunetti and the Captain of the Carabinieri; this was interesting and in parts humorous.
The climax to the book was like all good books should be exciting and fast paced. With the outcome in doubt till the final few pages. The author was able to build the suspense with creative and intelligent writing. The chapters were short and punchy, moving crisply between the various settings.
I would also have liked to see an epilogue, just so you could see if as a result of the investigation there had been any alteration and also to know what happened to the key characters in the book. But maybe it was not essential, especially as the main characters crop up time after time in Leon's novels.
I certainly enjoyed this book and recommend it as a really good crime novel. Especially for those who like and or know Venice, they would certainly be able to relate to the author's descriptions. At least now I do not have to talk to my boss about work, we can discuss Donna Leon's writing instead!!
Published by: William Heinemann 2007
Price: New Amazon £6.99 special price £3.86
About the author: http://www.donnaleon.co.uk
Thanks for reading.
This review is published on Ciao too.
CPTDANIELS December 2008