Doctored Evidence (Guido Brunetti Series #13)

Doctored Evidence (Guido Brunetti Series #13)

by Donna Leon

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802146014
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/13/2013
Series: Guido Brunetti Series , #13
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 158,263
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Donna Leon is the author of the international best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and has lived in Venice for thirty years.

Hometown:

Venice, Italy

Date of Birth:

February 28, 1942

Place of Birth:

Montclair, New Jersey

Education:

B.A., 1964; M.A. 1969; postgraduate work in English literature

Read an Excerpt

Doctored Evidence


By Donna Leon

Penguin Books

Copyright © 2005 Donna Leon
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0143035630

Chapter One

She was an old cow and he hated her. Because he was a doctor and she his patient, he felt guilty about hating her, but not so guilty as to make him hate her any the less. Nasty, greedy, ill-tempered, forever complaining about her health and the few people who still had the stomach for her company, Maria Grazia Battestini was a woman about whom nothing good could be said, not even by the most generous of souls. The priest had given up on her long ago, and her neighbours spoke of her with distaste, sometimes with open animosity. Her family remained connected to her only by means of the laws governing inheritance. But he was a doctor, so he had no choice but to make his weekly visit, even though it now consisted of nothing more than a perfunctory inquiry as to how she felt, followed by the speedy measuring of her pulse and blood pressure. He'd been coming for more than four years now, and his aversion had become so strong that he had lost the fight against his repeated disappointment at the continued absence of signs of illness. Just past eighty, she looked and acted a decade older, but she'd live to bury him; she'd live to bury them all. He had a key and used it to let himself into the building. The whole place was hers, all three floors, though she occupied only half of the second. Spite and meanness caused her to maintain the fiction that she occupied all of it, for by so doing she kept her sister Santina's daughter from moving into either the floor above or the one below. He forgot how many times, in the years since the death of her son, she had hurled abuse upon her sister and told him how much pleasure it gave her perpetually to frustrate her family's designs upon the house. She spoke of her sister with malice that had gathered momentum ever since their shared childhood. He turned the key to the right, and because it is in the nature of Venetian doors not to open at first try, he automatically pulled the door towards him as he turned the key. He pushed the door open, stepping into the dim entrance hall. No sunlight could penetrate the decades of grease and dirt that covered the two narrow windows above the door to the calle. He no longer noticed the dimness, and it had been years since Signora Battestini had been able to come down the steps, so the windows were unlikely to be cleaned any time soon. Damp had fused the wires years before, but she refused to pay for an electrician, and he had lost the habit of trying to switch the light on. He started up the first flight of stairs, glad that this was his last call of the morning. He'd finish with the old horror and go and have a drink, then get some lunch. He didn't have to be at his surgery to see patients until five; had no plans after lunch and nothing he particularly wanted to do, so long as he could be free of the sight and sound of their wasted and bloated bodies. As he started up the second flight, he found himself hoping that the new woman - he thought this one was Romanian, for that was how the old woman referred to her, though they never stayed long enough for him to remember their names - would last. Since her arrival, the old shrew was at least clean and no longer stank of urine. Over the years he'd watched them come and go; come because they were drawn by the prospect of work, even if it meant cleaning and feeding Signora Battestini and submitting to her unrelenting abuse; go because each had eventually been so worn down that even the most abject need could not resist the assault of the woman's nastiness. From the habit of politeness, he knocked at her door, though he knew it a futile courtesy. The blaring of her television, which had been audible even from outside the building, drowned out the sound: even the younger ears of the Romanian - what was her name? - seldom registered his arrival. He took the second key and turned it twice, then stepped into the apartment. At least it was clean. There had been a time, he thought it was about a year after her son died, when no one had come for more than a week, and the old woman had been left alone in the apartment. He still remembered the smell of the place when he'd opened the door for his then bi-monthly visit, and, when he'd gone into the kitchen, the sight of the plates of decomposing food left on the table for a week in the July heat. And the sight of her, body encased in layers of fat, naked and covered with the drips and dribbles of what she had tried to eat, hunched in a chair in front of the eternally blaring television. She'd ended up in hospital that time, dehydrated and disoriented, but they'd wanted quit of her after only three days, and since she demanded to be in her own home, they'd gladly taken the option and had her carried there. The Ukrainian woman had come then, the one who'd disappeared after three weeks, taking a silver serving plate with her, and his visits had been increased to once a week. But the old woman had not changed: her heart pounded on, her lungs pulled in the air of the apartment, and the layers of fat grew ever thicker. He set his bag on the table by the door, glad to see that its surface was clean, a sure sign that the Romanian was still there. He took the stethoscope, hooked it behind his ears, and went into the living room. Had the television not been on, he probably would have heard the noise before he went in. But on the screen the much-lifted blonde with the Shirley Temple curls was giving the traffic report, alerting the drivers of the Veneto to the potential inconvenience of traffico intenso on the A4 and drowning the industrious buzzing of the flies at work on the old woman's head. He was accustomed to the sight of death in the old, but deaths in old age were usually more decorous than what he saw on the floor beneath him. The old die softly or the old die hard, but because death seldom comes as an assault, few resist it with violence. Nor had she. Whoever had killed her must have taken her completely by surprise, for she lay on the floor to the left of an undisturbed table on which stood an empty cup and the remote control of the television. The flies had decided to divide their attention between a bowl of fresh figs and Signora Battestini's head. Her arms were flung out in front of her, and she lay with her left cheek on the floor. The damage was to the back of her head, which reminded him of a soccer ball his son's dog had once bitten, deflating it on one side. Unlike her head, the skin of the soccer ball had remained smooth and intact; nothing had leaked from it. He stopped at the door, looking around the room, too stunned by the chaos to have a clear idea of what he was looking for. Perhaps he sought the body of the Romanian; perhaps he feared the sudden arrival from some other room of the person who had done this. But the flies told him that whoever had done this had had more than enough time to flee. He glanced up, his staggered attention caught by the sound of a human voice, but all he learned was that there had been an accident involving a truck on the A3 near Cosenza. He walked across the room and switched off the television, and silence, neither hushed nor respectful, filled the room. He wondered if he should go into the other rooms and look for the Romanian, perhaps try to help her if they had not succeeded in killing her, too. Instead, he went into the hall and, taking his telefonino from his pocket, dialled 113 and reported that there had been a murder in Cannaregio. The police had little trouble finding the house, for the doctor had explained that the victim's home was at the beginning of the calle to the right of the Palazzo del Cammello. The launch glided to a halt on the south side of the Canale della Madonna. Two uniformed officers jumped on to the riva, then one of them leaned back into the boat to help the three men from the technical squad unload their equipment. It was almost one. Sweat dripped from their faces, and their jackets soon began to cling to their bodies. Cursing the heat, wiping vainly at their sweat, four of the five men began to carry the equipment to the entrance to Calle Tintoretto and along to the house, where a tall, thin man waited for them. 'Dottor Carlotti?' the uniformed officer who had not helped in unloading the boat asked. 'Yes.' 'It was you who called?' Both men knew the question was unnecessary. 'Yes.' 'Could you tell me more? Why you were here?' 'I came to visit a patient of mine - I come every week - Maria Grazia Battestini, and when I went into the apartment, I found her on the floor. She was dead.' 'You have a key?' the policeman asked. Though his voice was neutral, the question filled the air around them with suspicion. 'Yes. I've had one for the last few years. I have the keys to the homes of many of my patients,' Carlotti said, then stopped, realizing how strange it must sound, his explaining this to the police, and made uncomfortable by the realization. 'Would you tell me exactly what you found?' the policeman asked. As the two men spoke, the others deposited the equipment inside the front door and went back to the launch for more. 'She's dead. Someone's killed her.' 'Why are you sure someone killed her?' 'Because I've seen her,' Carlotti said and left it at that. 'Have you any idea who might have done it, Dottore?' 'No, of course I don't know who he was,' the Doctor insisted, trying to sound indignant but managing only to sound nervous. 'He?' 'What?' said Carlotti. 'You said, "he," Dottore. I was curious to know why you think it was a man.' Carlotti started to answer, but the neutral words he tried to pronounce slipped out of his control and, instead, he said, 'Take a look at her head and tell me a woman did that.' His anger surprised him; or rather, the force of it did. He was angry not with the policeman's questions but at his own craven response to them. He had done nothing wrong, had merely stumbled upon the old woman's body, and yet his unthinking response to any brush with authority was fear and the certainty that it would somehow cause him harm. What a race of cowards we've become, he caught himself thinking, but then the policeman asked, 'Where is she?' 'On the second floor.' 'Is the door open?' 'Yes.' The policeman stepped into the dim hallway, where the others had crowded to escape the sunshine, and made an upward motion with his chin. Then he said to the doctor, 'I want you to come upstairs with us.' Carlotti followed the policemen, resolved to say as little as possible and not to display any unease or fear. He was accustomed to the sight of death, so the sight of the woman's body, terrible as it was, had not affected him as much as had his instinctive fear of being involved with the police. At the top of the stairs, the policemen entered the apartment without bothering to knock; the doctor chose to wait outside on the landing. For the first time in fifteen years, he wanted a cigarette with a need so strong it forced the beat of his heart into a quicker rhythm. He listened to them moving around inside the apartment, heard their voices calling to one another, though he made no attempt to listen. The voices grew softer as the policemen moved to the next room, where the body was. He moved over to the windowsill and half sat on it, heedless of the accumulated filth. He wondered why they needed him here, came close to a decision to tell them they could reach him at his surgery if they wanted him. But he remained where he was and did not go into the apartment to speak to them. After a time, the policeman who had spoken to him came out into the corridor, holding some papers in a plastic-gloved hand. 'Was someone staying here with her?' he asked. 'Yes.' 'Who?' 'I don't know her name, but I think she was a Romanian.' The policeman held out one of the papers to him. It was a form that had been filled in by hand. At the bottom left was a passport-sized photo of a round-faced woman who could have been the Romanian. 'Is this the woman?' the policeman asked. 'I think so,' Dottor Carlotti answered. 'Florinda Ghiorghiu,' the policeman read, and that brought the name back. 'Yes. Flori,' the doctor said. Then, curious, he asked, 'Is she in there?' hoping the police would not find it strange that he had not looked for her, and hoping they had not found her body. 'Hardly,' the policeman answered with barely disguised impatience. 'There's no sign of her, and the place is a mess. Someone's been through it and taken anything valuable.' 'You think ...' Carlotti began, but the policeman cut him off. 'Of course,' the officer answered with anger so fierce it surprised the other man. 'She's from the East. They're all like that. Vermin.' Before Carlotti could object, the policeman went on, spitting out the words. 'There's an apron in the kitchen with blood all over it. The Romanian killed her.' And then, speaking the epitaph for Maria Grazia Battestini that Dottor Carlotti would perhaps not have given, the policeman muttered, 'Poor old thing.'



Continues...


Excerpted from Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon Copyright © 2005 by Donna Leon. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Doctored Evidence (Guido Brunetti Series #13) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Venice, Italy, everyone who knows elderly Maria Grazia Battestini detests her. The local priest shuns her; her neighbors openly hate her; her family avoids her. Only Dottore Carlotti and her Romanian housekeeper Florinda Ghiorghiu have any consistent contact with the odious octogenarian. It is not surprising that someone murdered her and that the police immediately blame the foreign servant for committing the crime.............................. The police find Florinda in a second class compartment on a train leaving the country with seven hundred Euro notes in her purse. Panicking, Florinda tries to escape, but instead is killed by an on-coming train. With extremely circumstantial evidence offered by Maria¿s niece and the fact that Florinda was fleeing the crime scene, the Venice police declare her the killer and the case closed. Three weeks later, graphic designer Assunta Gismondi returns from business in London to learn that Flori is dead and that she killed her employer. Assunta knows otherwise as she had given Flori the Euros and the train ticket. She reports to police Lieutenant Scarpa who is nasty and skeptical towards her. However, Commissario Guido Brunetti believes her story and follows the leads provided by her in an attempt to find the real killer though his superiors prefer the present solution..................................... DOCTORED EVIDENCE, the latest Brunetti Italian police procedure (see UNIFORM JUSTICE and DEATH AT LA FENICE), is a terrific investigative novel that showcases how stereotyping can hamper truly solving a case. The story line is cleverly designed so that readers can see why the brass wants the case left ¿solved¿ though counter evidence has surfaced. Brunetti is a wonderful lead character whose inquiries into who murdered the shrew make for a fine tale............................................. Harriet Klausner
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Joycepa on LibraryThing 26 days ago
13th in the Commissario Brunetti series set in Venice, Italy.An old woman is found battered to death in her apartment by her doctor who is making his weekly visit. Brunetti¿s nemesis, Lieutenant Scarpa, becomes convinced that the killer is a romanian woman who was a live-in housekeeper for the old woman, and who has disappeared. Her papers turn out to be forgeries, and Scarpa faxes a copy of her photo to the border police. Confronted by the police, she attempts to escape and accidentally falls into the path of an oncoming train, dying instantly. Scarpa considers the case not worth pursuing.But within a short time, a woman, Signora Grismondi, who was a neighbor of the victim, comes forth with a very different story--of having seen the victim alive as she accompanied the Romanian woman to the train station. Brunetti rescues her from Lieutenant Scarpa; believing her story, Brunetti and Vianello pursue an investigation for the real killer.This is another fine installment in the series, with all the standard Leon strengths, especially characterization. Brunetti¿s private life--his relationships with his children and especially his wife, Paola--is woven seamlessly into the story, providing a great deal of the humor and relief of tension in Brunetti¿s increasingly bleak professional life. Signorina Elettra continues to dazzle, and Lieutenant Scarpa is an excellent villain.In recent books, food has become even more important, with more brief descriptions of Brunetti¿s favorite dishes, to the point where I wish some of the recipes were printed in an appendix!While, unusually, the plot does not revolve around or concern a major social issue, it¿s still absorbing--an excellent police procedural that could only have taken place in Venice. Highly recommended.
SofiaAndersson on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The same formula as the other books about commissario Brunetti. But it works.
seoulful on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Not having spent too much time in mysteries, I am grateful to the person who sent this to me. It was a fast, enjoyable read, keeping my interest up to the end. Commissario Brunetti, a sleuth from Venice, is a maverick who rails against all the restricting laws which prevent him from efficiently doing his job of fighting crime. Fortunately, he has two assistants who don't mind bending these laws to facilitate his investigations. I appreciate the fact that the author does not feel that she must include explicit sex and profanity to tell a good story. Also, amazingly, Brunetti is happily married and faithful to his wife. I plan to buy all of her other books and stock them in the libraries I service.
zacchia on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Nice, but after a while they become boring. I read 6 or 7 books from Donna Leon, and after a while they all look alike.
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