The dead transvestite leads into a sufficiently convoluted path of police procedures and detective-thought to entertain. It is not so much a tour of the seamy side of the sex business in Venice as it is a tour of modern notions and misconceptions of the gay world and a voyage into the facts as presented and the different ways they can be ordered and re-ordered.
Here and there the issues of the day - perhaps of the generation - are also brought in to spice up the reality of fictional lives. In this case it is being gay, being a transvestite, living the life of the streets. It might be the nature of the death and it might be part of the mystery. We get a little of the gay bashing question with the following:
It was Mazza's turn to risk, "Was he very bad? When you found him?" He brought his hands together in front of him, one clutching at the other.
"Isn't it enough they want to fuck us?" Canale broke in, 'Why do they want to kill us, too?"
Thought the question was addressed to powers well beyond those for whom Brunetti worked, he still answered it. "I have no idea."
A perfect mystery? Hardly. Donna Leon is not Arthur Conan Doyle nor Agatha Christie and this is hardly on the level of Death in Venice. It is, however, easy to enter into the trip to Venice, to the underworld of Italy and into the life of the Commissario and his wife, Paola, and to be accompanied by the trusted sidekick (isn't there always one?), Vianello.
Join us in Venice. It is an old glove of a book - comfortable, interesting, agreeable, sometimes exciting, and hard to put down.