In most cases, the bold Venetian, Commissario Guido Brunetti solves important crimes in undesirable situations. Occasionally his superior, the Vice-Questore, elicits his help for often meaningless matters involving politicians or the very rich. This time, Brunetti is told...
In most cases, the bold Venetian, Commissario Guido Brunetti solves important crimes in undesirable situations. Occasionally his superior, the Vice-Questore, elicits his help for often meaningless matters involving politicians or the very rich. This time, Brunetti is told to investigate the mayor’s son’s fiancée. She and a partner own a mask shop outside a busy shopping district. Shopkeepers complain they pay taxes to put tables outside their establishment; she does not. Yet the fiancée has not received a citation from Municipal Police. The mayor dreaded losing his bid for reelection because of partialities. Commissario Brunetti quickly solved the mayor’s dilemma concerning his son’s fiancée.
Brunetti’s wife, Paola, told him of the sudden death of a 40 year-old, male, deaf mute that worked at their apparel care cleaners. Brunetti hadn’t noticed the man at their cleaners, nor did he know his name.
Paola felt the man always looked sad. She felt ashamed everyone referred to him as the ‘boy,’ even though he was 40. Concerned that no one knew his name, Paola believed it their duty to help the family. She asked Brunetti to investigate.
Greatly surprised the dead man, named Davide Cavanella, had committed suicide, Brunetti thought it questionable a deaf mute, or one less advanced mentally could be suicidal. Davide had drank hot chocolate and taken colorful sleeping pills, suspecting the pills as candy. The Medical Examiner believed it not surprising that the deaf might be more likely to kill themselves.
Questions swirled around Davide’s death. Brunetti discovered himself in a situation offering no prospects of progress—neighbors and tavern owners refused to talk about the dead man. The apparel care cleaners did not offer much information. Unmarried Ana Cavanella, Davide’s mother, dealt with his death in a calm accepting way. She too refused to comment on her son’s passing.
Suspicious, Brunetti elicited his assistants, as well as a female Commissario to assist him in the investigation. They learned there was no evidence of Davide having ever existed in Italy; he did not have a carta d''identità—identity card, nor were there dental records and very little medical information extracted from his physcian. Yet Brunetti was astonished and baffled to find Davide’s stunnngly impressive arwork displayed in the physician’s office. It appeared Davide was emotionally expressive.
Brunetti struggled with Ana Cavanella to reveal why there was no information of Davide’s existence. But stalwart, Ana was full of deceit and encrusted in lies and defensiveness, stating her wallet and Davide’s information was stolen, that she and her husband lived in France, where Davide was born, but she could not remember the town. They returned to Venice. Her husband abandoned them and returned to France. Although very little is offered by neighbors and peers at her former place of employment, Brunetti finds Ana was not married, nor considered a virtuous woman by some, ignorant and a viper by others.
Undaunted, Brunetti refused to give in to Ana’s lack of cooperation. The mystery about Davide dominated his thoughts. Several puzzling questions concerning Davide remained unanswered.
More characters appeared such as an aristocratic family and Ana Cavanella’s temporarily disbarred lawyer friend who provided ‘legal information.’ Nothing will impede Commissario Brunetti’s path in finding out the point of where Davide’s existence began. Hidden deception is exposed with a surprising twist.
I believe the book should have addressed Ana’s failure and responsibility concerning Davide’s life and death.
In the past, I’ve read several of Donna Leon’s murder mysteries. They also address important social issues, such as the environment crisis in Italy, political corruption, illegal immigrants, secret world of the Gypsies, and white slavery.
Leon’s book briefly focused on some of the stereotypes used for the deaf or how they are perceived. They too are creative and imaginative. They too become depressed, but with mental illness being more prevalent, and are at greater risk to harm themselves.
I gave this book four stars.