Thursday, January 21, 2016

3. Dressed for Murder by Donna Leon

My mom left this when she came to visit last year, said it was quite readable but not top-notch.  I have to agree. The detective is intelligent, rational and moral in a world of corruption and politics. The setting, modern-day Venice, is cool, as the detective's lifestyle around it (buying fresh tomatoes and figs to prepare dinner).  They mystery was compelling and intricate.  A man's body is found in a field behind a slaughterhouse, a place where local prostitutes sometimes ply their trade.  The face is badly smashed and he is in woman's clothes.  The investigation leads to the transvestite prostitution scene in Venice and follows (of course) to well-placed and powerful political figures.  It all felt a bit light and the ending was a bit too easy.  Nevertheless, an enjoyable read and would work fine on a beach or winter cabin vacation.

Reading this, watching Foyle's War (about a similarly rational and moral detective but in England during WWII) and watching Making a Murderer, really makes me think about the idea of the fictional character of the detective.  Why do we love them so much?  Why are they so good?  Especially in the light of reality (at least in America and Canada) that most of them seem to be unethical bureaucrats at best and downright sociopathic murderers at worst.  I want to read more books about detectives where they are bumbling around, forcing cases into pre-conceived ideas, badgering witnesses, planting evidence and even straight-up murdering people.  What is going on in those detectives' heads?

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