(My review on goodreads)
This is by far the best Brunetti novel in years, and among the best in the series. This is not a return to Leon’s style in her early novels, but something new. Leon appears to have broken out of the lethargy and indifference that have characterized her past half dozen novels, and evidently spent a great deal of effort crafting the flow of this novel. The early chapters can nearly stand on their own, as Leon sets up the story: the conversation with his father in law, his return home, dinner at home, his somewhat uncomfortable interaction with Griffoni, his conversation with vice-questore Patta. The mood and tone in each chapter is different, and perfectly suited to the scene and its ramifications.
Besides the care and skill that Leon deployed in writing the novel, I was also happy that she seems to have corrected her politically rightward trajectory. There is none of the reactionary fretting about immigrants, for example, that marred a couple of the recent Brunetti novels. And this novel is structured thematically around Brunetti’s re-reading of Euripedes’ The Trojan Women, read here as an anti-war drama. So, politically, there are at least small reminders of the Donna Leon of twenty years ago.
The police procedural aspect of the novel is not quite so successful: the murder mystery is solved by way of an electronic deus ex machina. But, no matter, we don’t really read these novels for the muder mystery.
Finally, Grove Atlantic Press has done its usual unspeakably awful job of editing and typesetting,. There is no colophon to confirm this but I assume that the font is something like “Cheapest Possible Serif” or perhaps “Kerned Line Printer Gothic”. I really wish that someone would tell them that there is a difference between ‘, ‘, and’. And it would actually aid readability if they would “enclose dialogue inside proper double quotes.” It’s really not hard to do.