This is the 21st novel in the Guido Brunetti series. Most mystery series get pretty stale by this point, but not so in this case. In large part that is due to the well-drawn characters and the basic likableness of Brunetti, Paula, and Vianello, but I think there’s more to it than that. Most of the novels have an underlying political or social theme (meat consumption in this case), and in each novel there is a growing anger and despair (or resignation) about the corruption and ineptness of the Italian government and the destructive impact of globalization - these elements provide some background interest to the novels. But I think what really sets these novels apart from other police procedurals is the strong sense of sorrow for the murder victim, the sense that the novel cannot be merely about the motives for the crime and the manner in which the police solve the case, but must ultimately leave the reader with a sense of compassion for the victim and for those affected by the murder.