About Face by Donna Leon
Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti and his wife, Paola, are on their way to a dinner party when Brunetti’s eye is caught by a couple ahead of them: a woman in an impossibly expensive fur coat on the arm of a much older man. He is intrigued when they turn out to be fellow dinner guests, and even more so when he sees the woman’s face, which has been disfigured by excessive plastic surgery. She is Franca Marinello, La Superliftata, whom he’s heard of but never met. This intelligent, mysterious woman entrances Brunetti with her love of Virgil and Cicero, but when she visits him later at the Questura and asks a favor, he is troubled. Her request seems to land near his investigation into a suspicious death and the illegal hauling of garbage. In Italy, the environment has reached a crisis; incinerators across the south are at full capacity, burning who-knows-what, the polluted waters of Venice’s canals sit in the shadow of a major chemical complex, and in Naples, enormous piles of garbage grow in the streets. As Brunetti delves into this shadowy, toxic world, he comes face to face with violence and corruption more dangerous than anything he’s seen before. An exceptional installment in this masterful series, About Face is Donna Leon at her finest.