Review

Through a Glass, Darkly: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

by Donna Leon



A reader can easily feel like they are standing with the soles of
their feet in Venice, Italy in Donna Leon's 15th Commissario
Brunetti mystery. In THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY, even the city's
history becomes a character that adds another dimension of intrigue
and suspense. Donna Leon, as always, depicts the characters, food,
culture and people of Venice with a knowing eye for "just the
right" detail. Commissario Brunetti's family, the Vice-Questore and
his latest job search, and the enigmatic Signorina Elettra round
out an ensemble cast that makes this a worthwhile and rewarding
journey for any reader.

Commissario Brunetti's assistant Vianello requests help for his
friend Marco Ribetti, who has been arrested during an environmental
protest. After securing Marco's release from the Mestre Questura,
the three men are confronted by a short white-haired man who pokes
Brunetti in the chest. The man, who is furious over the
environmental protests, claims that Ribetti married his daughter
only for her money. Ribetti leaves the scene and Brunetti knows
there is more to the story.

Vianello fills Brunetti in with the account of Marco Ribetti and
Assunta De Cal and their unlikely match. Assunta was not the
prettiest young woman and Marco did not share his father-in-law's
political, cultural or business views. Marco, an environmental
engineer whose impact and feasibility studies many times resulted
in construction cost overruns for business owners, is often at odds
with Giovanni De Cal. De Cal, owner of a successful glass factory,
views the world as ruthless competition and his son-in-law a
nuisance. Laborers were to work hard, more was always better, and
progress was viewed with a skeptical eye. 

After a chance encounter at a gallery opening, Marco's wife Assunta
calls Brunetti's wife Paolo to ask for his help. Her father has
been heard to talk violently against her husband and she is
worried, so she wants Brunetti to come talk to her. He does and
begins investigating the threats. 

Brunetti meets with workers in the glass factory, including the
mother-in-law of the night watchman, Tassini. Tassini has two young
children, one healthy and one not. He believes the child suffers
because toxic mineral waste from the factory has affected his own
genetic structure --- which he has now passed on to his
daughter.  And he blames the owner of the glass factory, De
Cal.

When Tassini is found dead in De Cal's factory in Murano, Brunetti
is called to investigate. Was it an accident? Murder? Found next to
his body near the furnace is a copy of Dante's INFERNO. Is this a
clue? The Commissario looks into Tassini's files and his books that
lead him to an understanding of what has happened. Brunetti not
only fits the pieces of the crime together, but also leaves the
reader knowing exactly why the murder took place.

Donna Leon's trademark style creates suspense while also giving the
reader a deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding the
mystery.

Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on January 23, 2011

Through a Glass, Darkly: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
by Donna Leon

  • Publication Date: March 27, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0143038060
  • ISBN-13: 9780143038061