6) Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
Here is the requisite Brunetti novel for this year’s reading. Without looking back, I think I’ve almost certainly described how opening a Donna Leon novel on holiday is the literary equivalent of donning some slippers in front of an open fire: comfortable, relaxing and makes you feel completely at ease. As I read more of the Venice-set series, it is the characterisation that really makes it: Brunetti and his wife Paola and their kids; the food they eat; the places he stops to eat some cicchetti for snack and so on. The actual crime to be solved starts to feel less important…
….but in this case, it revolves around the suicide (*klaxon* apparent suicide) of a young military cadet at a private military school. Things spiral out from there as it becomes clear that it’s connected to some other criminal activity, and that other people are being put in danger. And the mafioso-like silence of the military cadets can only last so long under Brunetti’s wily investigative tactics.
The Commissario is increasingly one of my favourite detectives, and this one of my favourite crime series. They are really a series about Italian life, business and politics as much as they are a set of whodunnits set in a pretty city – that Leon can continue to develop the long-standing characters (this is number 12 apparently, though I think only the fourth I’ve read) whilst bringing fresh angles, perspectives and storylines to bear is a testament to her skills. Recommended escapism.