Saturday, March 21, 2009

About Face-Donna Leon

About Face
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly, Apr 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9780802118967

All over Italy, it seems everyone struggles with what to do about waste, which to the average citizen and the tourist seems like nothing as the senses are overwhelmed with the smell and sight. Although it seems otherwise, a lot is going on to dispose of waste; some being illegal and proving deadly.

Marghera Carabinieri agent Maggiore Filipo Guarino is investigating the murder of police informant Stefano Ranzato. The trucking company driver-owner was killed during a robbery that most likely is a cover to eliminate a government stooge, who was providing information on illegal toxic waste removal. Needing local Venetian help, Maggiore asks Commissario Guido Brunetti to assist on the inquiry that seems to imply a Mafiaosa takeover of waste disposal. At the same time Conte Orazio Falier, the father of Guido’s wife Paola, asks him to investigate Maurizio Cataldo, who solicits capitol to invest in China; and whose second wife former model Franca Marinello suffers from a failed cosmetic facial surgery.

The two story lines that make up this solid Brunetti Italian police procedural sort of come together in a final confrontation, but the heart of the tale is the insightful look at the relationships of the hero especially with his cherished wife and children, the change with his aristocratic in-laws, and the respect from the cops who work for him. The underlying theme is that humans are turning the third planet from the sun into a toxic dump that needs action now. Fans will enjoy Donna Leon’s cautionary environmental whodunit that focuses on the garbage wars.

Harriet Klausner

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