It’s a Mystery: Willful Behavior, by Donna Leon

Wilful Behaviour (Commissario Brunetti #11)Art treasures

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the things that make the Brunetti series so appealing is Guido’s relationship with his family. After 20 years of marriage, he and Paola are still in love. As Willful Behavior opens, Paolo, a college lecturer, is approached by one of her students, Claudia Leonardo, for some advice about acquiring an exoneration for her grandfather, an art dealer during WWII. Paola arranges for Claudia to talk to Guido, who believes nothing can be done, but whose curiosity is aroused by the story related by this obviously intelligent young woman. By the end of the week, Claudia’s body is discovered by her flat-mate, stabbed to death at home.

Commissario Brunetti’s investigation requires delving into a web of secrets that official Venice buried immediately after the end of the war. He is assisted, unofficially, by his patrician father-in-law and by a couple of friends of longstanding who are active in the art world. Officially, Signorina Elettra comes through with her superb computer research skills, and Guido’s partner, Vianello, now promoted to Ispettore, provides valuable assistance.

As always in Donna Leon’s novels, the social problems that underlie the crime in question are given equal importance with the investigation. In Willful Behavior,, the issue is the wholesale victimization and defrauding of Jews, desperate to escape the Nazis, by Venetian art dealers. Appealing recurrent characters, intelligent, well constructed plots, great back stories, and the beautiful backdrop of hidden Venice – each of Leon’s Brunetti books is a little gem.

 

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