This is the first time I’ve read the one that started them all. I can’t remember when I read my first Commissario Brunetti mystery, but I loved them from the start. First and foremost, they are set in Venice and La Serenissima is most definitely a presence. From the vaporetti to the feral cats, Leon captures the essence of the city until you can almost smell the sea.
The working out of the mystery is done without the help of his superior, almost against his wishes. His boss would prefer to bring the case to a quick close, place the blame on some foreigner, and get it out of the papers before it hurts the tourist season. Brunetti is more interested in finding the truth, no matter how unpleasant, and he’s not going to be stopped by something as minor as his superior’s opposition. Fortunately, he has the support of his peers and underlings to help him and his many connections in all strata of Venetian society.
The tropes I love are in place from the very beginning, and this novel does a fine job of launching the series: Brunetti’s clueless boss, his conflict over his wife’s aristocratic background, and his refusal to give up until he ferrets out the truth.