The Girl of His Dreams, By Donna Leon

The 17th novel in Donna Leon's excellent detective series finds the affable Commissario Guido Brunetti trying to work out how and why a pretty ten-year-old girl has been found floating in Venice's Grand Canal. His investigations take him deep into the Veneto and a squalid gypsy encampment.

As ever, Leon's books are always more than just well told whodunnits, offering as they do a riveting snapshot of Italian life through the eyes of an unusually sociable and clued-up policeman. Guido and his sidekick, Vianello, seek to unravel the mystery of the dead girl's fate, but encounter both political incorrectness and petty corruption at every level. With no pat endings in store, this is Leon's most sombre and contemplative novel to date.

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