This is among the best in this very long running series of Brunetti novels. It is very unusual for a series to get better in the later stages, and in fact some of the previous novels were showing a few signs of wear, but this novel seemed to me to be almost a reinvention of the series. The dialogue is crisp, the narrative is engaging and seamless, and the characters are very well drawn.
There are two closely related themes here: the first has to do with the profound ways in which our language determines our relationship with the world and with each other: jokes, conversation, playing with words, using words to express our needs or our sympathy. The second is the ease with which deception can be used to manipulate others.
But above all this is a novel about the terrible effects of stupidity and greed. Greed, of course, is a constant theme in this series, but usually it is greed as practiced by successful fraudsters and criminals. This time the practitioner is simply a very stupid avaricious superstitious person - a person described as a ‘viper’ by an otherwise mild mannered witness.
I hope this novel is an indication that more Brunetti novels will come our way. I’ve been enjoying them for many years, and look forward to many more.