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Guido Brunetti’s tedious day is interrupted by a phone call from Director Patrizia Fabbiani of the Merlusa Library. In a shaky voice, she reports the theft of some rare books and vandalism to others, discovered only minutes earlier. Brunetti remembers using this library when he was a college student. After a few pertinent questions, he sets out to investigate, alerting another officer and a fingerprinting team to join him.

Interviewing the guard at the door as well as the director, he learns that only two researchers were using the library in recent days: Signore Franchini, a former priest who read theology books by “the fathers of the church,” as he called them, and Doctor Joseph Nickerson, who was there with a letter of reference from the University of Kansas and gave his passport as identification. They had both exited the library without their usual goodbyes shortly before the crime was noticed. The books with pages cut out were left open, so no attempt had been made to hide Nickerson’s activities, which were found to be more extensive than originally thought. The library’s collection was mainly comprised of books that were rare, old and valuable.

Brunetti is thoughtful, observant and experienced, as fans of this mystery series have learned. Nickerson’s credentials were forgeries. Then, Franchini is found brutally murdered. As the Commissario works his way through the case, we learn more about his character and his abilities.

Donna Leon’s books provide insight into the culture, politics, family life and history of Venice. She is very familiar with the charms of this unique city. A native of New Jersey, she has lived in Venice for 30 years. Reading one of her books is like a lovely vacation trip but with intrigue and excitement added in.