When the body of an wealthy elderly woman is found, brutally murdered in her Venetian flat, it is soon clear to the police that the prime suspect is her Rumanian maid, who has disappeared and is heading for Rumania. When the woman is approached by the border police as her train is leaving Italy, she makes a run for it and is killed as she crosses the tracks in front of an oncoming train. She has a considerable sum of money on her and her papers are obvious forgeries. Case closed. But when the old woman's neighbour returns from a business trip in London, it becomes clear that the maid could not have had time to kill the old woman before catching her train, and that the money on her was not stolen. Commissario Brunetti decides - unofficially - to take the case on himself. As Brunetti learns more of the old woman's family, it becomes clear that this is probably not a crime motivated by greed, rather that the probable motive connects with the temptations of lust. But perhaps Brunetti is following a false trail and thinking of the wrong deadly sin altogether...
Donna Leon was born in the US. She has lived in Venice for over 25 years.
"Donna Leon's new novel brings with it all the elements of a classic thriller - murder, intrigue and a plot that twists and turns all the way to the finale. When the only suspect in a brutal murder runs from the police and is mown down by a passing train it looks like the case is closed.....or is it? One neighbour believes that there is more to this than meets the eye. Knowing that the suspect couldn't have committed the murder, she convinces the local Commissario to probe further. Delving into the investigation a warped tale of blackmail, greed and lust is revealed. A clever tale that keeps the reader entertained without going into excessive detail so as to saturate the plot. Leon combines an easy reading style with an invigorating narrative to keep the reader enthralled all the way through. (Kirkus UK) Everyone joined in disliking the victim in Commissario Guido Brunetti's latest case-but who hated her enough to kill her? If Maria Grazia Battestini, 83, had lived for the ten years the doctor claims her body might well have lasted, it would have been a miserable decade for Florinda Ghiorghiu, the latest in a long line of long-suffering domestic servants, and her neighbor Assunta Gismondi, the graphic designer who regularly phoned the Questura at 4:00 a.m. to complain about the television blaring across the canal. When the old woman is beaten to death, overzealous officers pursue her live-in helper to the Romanian border, where she's killed as she flees from them, and then act indifferent (some wonderfully characteristic work here from Brunetti's despicable underling, Lt. Scarpa) when Signorina Gismondi returns from a trip to London to offer the servant an alibi. Brunetti, realizing that nobody else has any stake in reopening the investigation, patiently sifts through possible motives, from blackmail to illegal construction contracts to the AIDS that killed Signora Battestini's son five years ago. It's even clearer than in Brunetti's earlier cases (Uniform Justice, 2003, etc.), however, that his colleagues, variously lazy, stupid, and malignant, are more dangerous enemies than the inoffensive suspects could ever be. Following Brunetti on the case is like watching drops of water wear away stone, though it's clear there's no hope for the more general petrifaction of Venice that Leon masterfully tracks." (Kirkus Reviews)