Blood from a Stone

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Many fans wait for the next Commissario Guido Brunetti novel—this one will not disappoint. Donna Leon, who has lived in Venice for years, is aware of all the subtleties of the Italian police and of Venetian daily life, and this knowledge leavens all her plots.

Blood from a Stone opens with the murder of a vu cumpra, the name the Venetians give to illegal immigrants peddling fake designer goods on the street before and after the stores close. The murder seems to have been a professional “hit,” and the police do not understand why anyone would kill a street vendor in that manner. Spurred in part by his daughter's apparent contempt for the street vendors, Brunetti is determined to find out the truth, but obstacles appear at every turn, and his superior orders him not to investigate the crime further.

Brunetti attempts to enter the world of the street vendors to unravel the tangle of events and motives. The deeper he digs, the more collusion and corruption he finds. The relations between the vu cumpra and more sophisticated organizations are gnarled, and the investigation leads Brunetti to place in danger his closest friends. The tension increases as Brunetti tries to trace unbelievable wealth that was in the hands of the murdered man. The solution is both surprising and satisfying.

The novel is a true delight to read, and its flavor is enhanced by the understanding of the life of Venice and its inhabitants that filters through all the action. The glimpses of Brunetti's family and of other Italians at work and play give the reader an insider's knowledge.