Doctored Evidence
Donna Leon
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Buy *Doctored Evidence* by Donna Leon online

Doctored Evidence
Donna Leon
352 pages
May 2005
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Commissario Guido Brunetti is called upon to solve yet another bloody murder amongst the little-known ways of Venice, Italy. This time an old woman every hated is seemingly murdered by her illegal immigrant maid who, in a neat twist, is then killed when chased by the police. For most officers the case is closed, but not for a man like Commissario Brunetti who is on vacation when the two deaths occurr. The case is not even his but niggling details like this mean nothing to him.

Slightly over the top and approaching the ever-present shark jump Donna Leon sets for herself every time she sits at the keyboard, Doctored Evidence is another brilliantly executed mystery set in a city few people visit and where even fewer live. Commissario Brunetti is a long-suffering member of the Venice police force. Forced to maneuver between incompetence and corruption in order to do a decent day's work is hard on someone with a conscience and a gentle soul like Brunetti. Fortunately for him, he has a highly intelligent wife who can draw the big picture out for him when he gets lost in the trees and can't see the forest. Then there are his compatriots in the police force itself, Inspector Vianello and Signorina Elettra. Vianello is his sidekick when needed and his legs when Brunetti can't take the Venice heat or has to face it from his superiors. Elettra is an enigma disguised as a female computer genius. She's technically taken a step down in life from her previous job but seems to make up for the lack in status with the joy of breaking into various agencies and banks she shouldn't on behalf of truth and justice.

This time, the voracious reader in the Brunetti household, his wife Paola, is reading the catechism, and it's making her think about the world's current view of sin. Brunetti uses her thinking as he always does to clear his own head and to get into the mind of the criminal he seeks. Brunetti has to figure out who could possibly hate an old woman so much that he orshe would savagely beat her to death then leave her body to rot in the Venetian heat. Which of the deadly sins had the old woman committed in her past that would lead her to such a horrible fate?

Brunetti is a great character, made of stern, solid things that any woman could trust and any man would know to respect. Even though he was on vacation when the murder was committed, because it was passed to an incompetent employee Brunetti feels responsible for conducting a proper investigation when a neighbor comes to Brunetti with further evidence. This, of course, leads him down a slippery slope of lies, deceit, blackmail, and inevitably to the truth, which combats every sin known to man.

Another great read from Donna Leon, who consistently delivers great mysteries set in a land few know. I love the details she gives to her writing that bring readers closer to how people in Venice actually think and live, and under what circumstances they would do what. It's fascinating to learn these little nuances of a city. I want to travel to Venice and read these books there just to see how much of what Leon puts into her books is true. Do some of these marketplaces and houses exist? Aside from the setting, the story is solid and the characters are faithful to their themselves. It's nice to come back to Leon's Venice and see how some things have changed but others have stayed the same.

This book is great for anyone who loves to travel via a good story as well as for lovers of a good mystery. There are plenty of plot twists, and the characters are well-rounded enough for you to get lost in the backstory and forget why you're in the book, but you'll be bounced back when the next shoe drops.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Kimberly Lightfoot, 2006

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