The Venice-based Brunetti mysteries feature well-dressed Italian people, delicious food, frequent coffee and wine breaks, and a polite and philosophical detective married to a fiery liberal literature professor who happens to be the daughter of a rich conte and contessa.
The minor complaint I have is that there is a focus on social issues -- for example, previous books dealt with illegal immigration, the environment, the meat industry, child prostitution, etc. -- that occasionally is presented in a heavy-handed, Very Special Episode sort of way. These issues are exacerbated or caused by what appears to be the most frustratingly abysmal bureaucracy on earth -- the Italian government.
This book avoids all that for the most part and is, in a manner of speaking, more of a straightforward mystery whose motif is Words, Glorious Words. What would become of us if we were stripped of the inability to either speak or understand words? To what extent does our very existence depend on our ability to communicate with others and to form relationships? Brunetti and Co. are about to find out, or at least muse about it for awhile, preferably over a bottle of wine.
As usual, Brunetti is contemplative, serious, and slightly wistful, but luckily, there are the awesome Signorina Elettra and Paola to bail him out whenever he veers to far into melancholic angst.