Uniform Justice (Guido Brunetti Series #12)

Uniform Justice (Guido Brunetti Series #12)

4.1 11
by Donna Leon

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Neither Commissario Brunetti nor his wife Paola have ever had much sympathy for the Italian armed forces, so when a young cadet is found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice's elite military academy, Brunetti's emotions are complex: pity and sorrow for the death of a boy, close in age to his own son, and contempt and irritation for the arrogance and high-handedness…  See more details below


Neither Commissario Brunetti nor his wife Paola have ever had much sympathy for the Italian armed forces, so when a young cadet is found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice's elite military academy, Brunetti's emotions are complex: pity and sorrow for the death of a boy, close in age to his own son, and contempt and irritation for the arrogance and high-handedness of the boy's teachers and fellow-students.

The young man is the son of a doctor and former politician, a man of an impeccable integrity all too rare in Italian politics. Dr. Moro is clearly and understandably devastated by his son's death; but while both he and his apparently estranged wife seem convinced that the boy's death could not have been suicide, neither appears at all keen to talk to the police nor to involve Brunetti in any investigation of the circumstances in which he died.

As Brunetti - and the indispensable Signorina Elettra - investigates the doctor's political career and the circumstances of his estrangement from his wife, they are faced by a wall of silence, as the military protects its own and civilians are unwilling to talk. Is this the natural reluctance of Italians to involve themselves with the authorities, or is Brunetti facing a conspiracy of silence?

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Despite the serious issues they raise, Leon's books shimmer in the grace of their setting and are warmed by the charm of their characters. As a thinking man, Brunetti reads Cicero for moral direction, looks to his wife for doses of cynical realism and humbly consults his secretary, the terrifyingly efficient Signorina Elettra, on practical matters. But it is as a man of sensibility that this endearing detective most engages us. On his slow walks through Venice, he will go out of his way to exchange greetings with a myna in a pet shop or admire a woman's legs in a coffee bar-quietly celebrating the way life goes on, even in an unjust world. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
In all this, Leon's bittersweet novel seems to reflect a love-hate passion for her adopted land. Presumably Leon wouldn't live in Italy unless she loved it. But you can love a country, and not only Italy, without being blind to its failures or embracing the knaves and fools who hold power. Uniform Justice is a neat balancing act. Its silken prose and considerable charm almost conceal its underlying anger; it is an unlovely story set in the loveliest of cities. — Patrick Anderson
Publishers Weekly
In this superb novel, Leon's latest in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series (A Noble Radiance, etc.), the Venetian police detective and family man is summoned to the exclusive San Martino Military Academy, where Cadet Ernesto Moro has been found dead, hanging in the lavatory. The other cadets and the academy brass give a chilly reception to any "civilians" who trespass into their midst, including the Venetian police. Believing Cadet Moro was the victim of homicide rather than suicide, Brunetti traces a sinister trail that leads to the dead boy's father, a doctor-turned-politician who once revealed then ducked the ramifications of a military procurement scandal. This is not the Venice of Thomas Mann or Henry James-the palazzos, gondoliers and Doges' monuments are all but overlooked. Leon's city is winter-cold and gray, with corruption rather than gilt glinting through the fog, and a culture in the grip of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy that runs on secrets and bribes. Humane and intelligent, a good man working in an impossible system, Brunetti displays an acerbic, economical wisdom. The plot flows along like the Adriatic tide through a narrow canal-swift, none-too-clean and inevitable. This is an outstanding book, deserving of the widest audience possible, a chance for American readers to again experience a master practitioner's art. (Sept. 29) Forecast: A 50,000-copy first printing and a $75,000 promotional budget, plus a contest aimed at booksellers and librarians for a free trip for two to Venice, will help raise the profile of an author who hasn't been published in the U.S. since 1996. European reviewers consistently put Leon in the same class as Ruth Rendell and Patricia Highsmith, and American critics should start doing the same. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Mystery fans who have not yet discovered Leon's elegant Venetian puzzles starring the canny but scrupulously honest police commissario Guido Brunetti are in for a special treat. An American who has lived in Venice for more than 20 years, Leon offers intimate, behind-the-scenes portraits of an ancient city that few tourists ever see while presenting intricate, intelligent mysteries that address facets of contemporary Italian life: the opera (Death at La Fenice), the Church (The Death of Faith), and now the military. When Brunetti is called to investigate the hanging death of a young cadet at an exclusive military academy, he meets a wall of silence from the authorities, who just want to see the case closed quickly as a "suicide." Already contemptuous of a corrupt system that he sees as no different from the Mafia except "that some wore easily recognized uniforms while the other leaned toward Armani and Brioni," Brunetti turns to the boy's grieving but uncooperative parents for help. Could the father's resignation as one of the few honest politicians from the Italian parliament have something to do with the boy's death? Brunetti doggedly pursues the case even though he realizes that in the end justice is not always dispensed uniformly. But isn't that like life? Currently, Leon's other marvelous titles are only available in expensive British paperbacks, but one hopes that Atlantic Monthly and Penguin, which is issuing a mass-market edition of A Noble Radiance, will continue to reintroduce this wonderful writer to American readers. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/03.]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After half a dozen adventures published abroad, Venice's sorely missed Commissario Guido Brunetti (Acqua Alta, 1996, etc.) returns to American bookshops in the case of the hanged cadet. If Ernesto Moro doesn't seem to have been close to either any of his fellow cadets at the San Martino Military Academy or indeed to his own family, that's because neither group is exactly nurturing. San Martino is governed by a code of decorum so strict that when Brunetti engages young Giuliano Ruffo in a conversation about music without his parents' consent, his superiors call him to account. And the Moro family seems equally remote from each other. Dottor Fernando Moro, formerly an incorruptible Member of Parliament, separated from his wife Federica, who was shot and nearly killed in a hunting accident, around the same time he resigned his government post, and neither parent is able to account for their daughter Valentina. As Brunetti, haunted by questions Ernesto's apparent (and eagerly accepted) suicide raises for his own luckier family, proceeds in his leisurely investigations, a pattern of systematic wrongdoing slowly emerges-a pattern more interesting than any of the characters who seem stifled by the miasmal corruption. A powerful indictment of an Italian society in which "scandal had the same shelf life as fresh fish: by the third day, both were worthless; one because it had begun to stink, the other because it no longer did." First printing of 50,000; $75,000 ad/promo. Agent: Susanne Bauknecht/Diogenes Verlag AG, Zurich

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Guido Brunetti Series, #12
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 6.82(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Brunetti arrived before the children did, so he opted to keep Paola company while she finished preparing the meal. As she set the table, he lifted pot lids and opened the oven, comforted to find nothing but familiar dishes: lentil soup, chicken smothered in red cabbage, and what looked like radicchio di Treviso.

"Are you bringing all of your detective skills to bear in examining that chicken?" Paola asked as she set glasses on the table.

"No, not really," he said, closing the oven and standing upright. "My investigation has to do with the radicchio, Signora, and whether there are perhaps traces in it of the same pancetta I detected in the lentil soup."

"A nose as good as that," she said, coming over and placing the tip of her finger on it, "could effectively put an end to crime in this city." "I went to see Signora Moro," he began, pausing to see if Paola would react. She did not, so he went on, "I wanted to talk to her about the hunting accident."

"And?" Paola prodded.

"Someone shot at her from the woods near her friends' house, but then some other hunters came along and took her to the hospital."

"Are you sure they were other hunters?" Paola asked, giving evidence that her native skepticism had been enhanced by more than two decades of marriage to a policeman.

"It would seem so," he said, leaving it at that.

Knowing how reluctant he would be to mention him, Paola asked, "And the boy?"

"She said that he didn't kill himself, and that's all she said."

"She's his mother," Paola said. "Believe her."

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Uniform Justice 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
RivkahOH More than 1 year ago
Although this is the 12th book in the series, it is the first Guido Brunetti book I have read. I found the setting in Venice to be very interesting and the characters believable; I plan to read other books in the series because I want to know more about Brunetti and his family and co-workers. The plot held my interest, but I was somewhat disappointed in the ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As always Donna Loan delivers. The plot and setting of this book are excellent.Brunetti is a very colorful character. His methods of investigation are very clear and concise. He struggles in a corrupt system, but never becomes a part of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have ever been to Venice, you will fall in love with the Detective Brunetti series. Very Italian, good mystery, love that Donna Leon brings in literature, good food and the sights of the city of Venice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anything this woman writes is first rate. Read them all. Some can only be found at BN UK. Her characters come alive on the page, and she is a master of developing atmosphere.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting easy read for a mystery.