Uniform Justice Summary
by Donna Leon

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Uniform Justice

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Uniform Justice is another in a series of mysteries by American expatriate Donna Leon, resident of Venice, Italy. All of these novels feature Venetian detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti. Called in to investigate the apparent suicide by hanging of Ernesto Moro, a student at Venice’s San Martino Military Academy, Brunetti suspects murder. With a son close to Ernesto’s age, Brunetti questions why a young man would cut short his life. The dead boy is the son of a prominent politician, a reformer respected by Brunetti, and a man who blew the whistle on some local corruption. There are potential clues to the suspicious death in the father’s too short political career. He left office after his wife was accidentally shot, but not killed, by some hunters. The couple has since separated. They have a young daughter, but she lives with neither of them. Brunetti wants to know why. With the adroit computer skills of Signorina Elettra, the assistant to his superior officer, Brunetti puts together a patchwork of clues, all the while zipping back and forth to the military academy via Venetian canals, or home for a late dinner with Paola, his college professor wife, their son, and daughter.

Donna Leon captures the reader in her first chapter, a graphic description of the hapless and hungover cadet who first discovers the body. As appalled as he, the reader will be propelled through the unfolding mystery with trust in the perspicacious but humane Brunetti and his quest for justice. Along the way readers gain valuable insight into Italian customs and politics as Leon skillfully delineates the contours of the city Brunetti considers the most beautiful in the world. Perhaps it is, but beneath that veneer lies a repository of evil. The senseless death of a young man makes apparent Leon’s theme of the extent some people will go to solidify their wealth and power.