I was interested to hear a recent interview with Donna Leon in which she said that when she started writing a novel she had no idea how it would end.
This is very apparent in her 15th Brunetti book Through A Glass Darkly, and I am not saying that in a negative way it is just that the story flows like molten glass, and evolves very much like real life.
Inspettore Lorenzo Vianello asks Brunetti to help a friend Marco Ribetti who has been arrested during a demonstration against pollution of the Venetian lagoon.
When Ribetti is released they are confronted on the steps of the Questura by Giovanni De Cal, who berates Ribetti, his son-in-law, as a coward, a fortune hunter, and a troublemaker.
Assunta De Cal is worried that her father has uttered threats against her husband and may get into trouble, and a request through Paola ensures Brunetti will make enquiries.
De Cal owns a fornace on the glass making island of Murano and when Brunetti begins his investigation into the threats, he interviews Giorgio Tassini l'uomo di notte. Tassini believes his daughter is disabled because of the chemical pollution of the lagoon and the factory area.
When a body is found at the fornace the victim has left clues as to the motive in a copy of Dante's Inferno.
"no green leaves, but dark colours, no smooth branches, but gnarled and warped".
This is darker in tone, and much more introspective than most of Leon's novels. Brunetti is so involved with his enquiries that he actually forgets to go home for lunch one day. That is very unsual who panics that his wife is furious with him if he does not get an antipasto. There is a lot of information about glass making and the disposal of waste material, but as always it is the contrasting well drawn characters that make a Brunetti novel interesting. The tragic character of Tassini, and the kindness and concern of Brunetti is contrasted with the hypocritical arrogance of Vice Questore Patta, and the fornace owners.
Patta is one of the great evil creations in crime fiction, and to make him a policeman was surely an act of genius.
"How unlike Patta, who renounced every aspect of his work save for the power and perks of office."
I did not think this novel was quite as good as some of the others in the series, but any book with the fragrant Paola Brunetti and the enigmatic Signorina Elettra has me hooked.
Lamb it was, lamb with balsamic vinegar and green beans. No antipasto and only a salad to follow.