When Commissario Brunetti is summoned to the hospital bedside of a senior paediatrician whose skull has been brutally fractured, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men burst into the doctor's apartment in the middle of the night, attacked him and took his 18-month-old son - but why? As he investigates, Brunetti finds infertility, desperation, and babies for sale. Meanwhile, Inspector Vianello uncovers a scam between pharmacists and doctors in the city. And certain information about one's neighbours can lead to all kinds of corruption and all sorts of pain...Donna Leon's new novel is as subtle and gripping as ever, set in a beautifully realised Venice, seething with small-town malice.
"Leon's sixteenth Commissario Brunetti mystery is brilliant; she has never become perfunctory, never failed to give us vivid portraits of people and of Venice, never lost her fine, disillusioned indignation." The New York Times - Ursula K. Le Guin
"Commissario Guido Brunetti of Venice does what it takes to solve a case, whether it's having his aristocratic father-in-law arrange a meeting with a powerful political figure or playing the part of a wealthy infertile man who'll do anything to get a baby. After the Carabinieri (Italy's military police) rouse a prominent pediatrician in the middle of the night for illegally adopting his beloved 18-month-old son, Brunetti investigates related adoptions (in which an Italian man swears, falsely, that he fathered a child by a foreign woman) plus a scam in which pharmacists and doctors bill for bogus appointments. The two cases become entwined after the shop of an "exquisitely moral" pharmacist is vandalized. In her 16th book featuring Brunetti, CWA Silver Dagger Award winner Leon vividly illustrates the power of fatherhood, captures the nuances of Venetian politics, and provides a finish as satisfying as it is tragic. But what lifts this series far above the norm is the humanity of Brunetti and his family and the charm of Venice, where Leon has lived for 25 years. Brunetti and his wife, Paola, separately take delight in the wonders of their city; little wonder that their readers will, too." Michele Leber - Library Journal
Donna Leon has lived in Venice for many years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Her previous Commissario Brunetti novels have all been highly acclaimed; most recently Friends in High Places, which won the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, Wilful Behaviour, Doctored Evidence, Blood From A Stone and Through A Glass, Darkly.