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So Shall You Reap

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Issues of misdirected idealism and perverted justice bubble along as the novel builds to its not unexpected conclusion. Sadly, about half way through the story gets overly complicated with the introduction of several characters. Detective Sime Mackenzie, based in Montreal is part of the team sent to Entry Island to investigate the death of the wealthy businessman, James Cowell found stabbed to death. In the aftermath, he begins to doubt his career choices and realises that he needs a break from the stifling problems of his work.

It was Alvise, good old Alvise, dressed in jeans and a thick dark blue sweater that zipped up the front, a dark blue windbreaker over it, the sort worn on a boat or on a rainy day. The good news is that she ages him – so there is a sense of realness about her characters, which makes him and others believable.Inspection of his small residence confirmed this as Brunetti did not find much more than a small statue of Buddha that he worshipped at and a number of novels, mostly crime fiction. An interesting retrospective of the 1970-80s political troubles in Italy with the Red Brigades' kidnappings and murders. As ever, he failed, defeated by the architect, who had granted more than one horizontal window to each floor. As with every Brunetti novel there are themes, concerns and history running through it, Leon turns her eye to Italy's modern past, the 1970's when the Red Brigades sought to create a revolutionary state using violence as a weapon against those who they viewed against them. You can read this as a standalone as there is a guide to the main characters and their back stories at the end of the book, but it helps if you read at least some of the earlier books to have a sense of who everyone is and the character progression.

The very first issue, which we experience in the first few pages, involves someone on Brunetti’s team and a secret that no one was aware of. Nobody can find him – not his daughter, not his friends, and not the woman he’d been secretly visiting. March is one of my favorite months because that is usually when Donna Leon’s latest Commissario Guido Brunetti book is published.They relate to Italy's turbulent political and violent history, with its kidnappings and disappearances, but why would the Sri Lankan man be interested in this? The man’s mother is angry and contradictory when questioned about his death, and Brunetti senses that there much more to the story than she is willing to tell. My thanks to Grove Atlantic for providing an early copy of this book, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The beauty for me in these books is in the little things, the details of everyday life and small interactions between the city’s people.

The larger issue is that the two of them were completely unaware that their colleague for twenty years may have been leading an alternative lifestyle. As Venice experiences a debilitating heatwave, Brunetti escapes the city to spend time with his family.

I’m in awe of their parenting skills, and I would happily sit down to any meal at their dining table. The murder of two clam fishermen off the island of Pellestrina, south of the Lido on the Venetian lagoon, draws Brunetti into the close-knit community of the island, bound together by a code of loyalty and a suspicion of outsiders worthy of the Mafia. Still rigid, fingers apparently stuck to his forehead, Alvise took the opportunity to answer in dialect, and finally said, ‘I fell down the stairs.

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