By its Cover – Donna Leon

The book tells us of the continuing experiences of Commissario Brunetti, the wise Venetian policeman who weaves his way through the maze of politics, corruption, and other crime that awaits his every step. Yet he remains a kind, gentle – if occasionally abrupt – soul, often ruminating on spiritual matters with the perspective of a cynic, but a need to believe in happy endings. It isn’t always like that.

This time around, the story starts with the discovery of thefts of valuable books from one of the city’s libraries, before turning violent. Slowly, but surely, Brunetti gets to the bottom of things. On the way, we are treated to the exquisitely rendered Venetian backdrop, sharp observations on family and the world at large, and the human condition, by a writer at the top of her form.

This is a compact, evenly paced, well written piece of crime fiction that has the unmistakable seal of quality: I was so sad to get to the end. More, please!