About the Book
The memorable characters and Venetian drama that have long captivated Donna Leon’s many readers are on full display in The Temptation of Forgiveness. Surprised, if not dismayed, to discover from his superior, Vice-Questore Patta, that leaks are emanating from the Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti is surprised more consequentially by the appearance of a friend of his wife’s, fearful that her son is using drugs and hopeful Brunetti can somehow intervene. When Tullio Gasparini, the woman’s husband, is found unconscious and with a serious brain injury at the foot of a bridge in Venice after midnight, Brunetti is drawn to pursue a possible connection to the boy’s behavior. But the truth, as Brunetti has experienced so often, is not straightforward.
As the twenty-seventh novel unfolds in Donna Leon’s exquisite chronicle of Venetian life in all its blissful and sordid aspects, Brunetti pursues several false and contradictory leads while growing ever more impressed by the intuition of his fellow Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, and by the endless resourcefulness and craftiness of Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary and gate-keeper. Exasperated by the petty bureaucracy that constantly bedevils him and threatens to expose Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics. This predilection leads him to read Sophocles’ Antigone, and, in its light, consider the terrible consequences to which the actions of a tender heart can lead.
When they were seated, Patta began: “I’d like to speak to you frankly, Commissario.” Brunetti ignored the chance this remark gave him to ask how Patta had spoken to him in the past and, instead, nodded and put on a pleasant, interested expression. At least Patta had wasted no time with preliminaries.
“It’s about leaks,” Patta said.
“Leaks?” Brunetti asked, resisting the urge to look at the ceiling.
“From the Questura,” Patta continued.
Ah, that kind of leaks, Brunetti told himself and wondered what Patta had in mind. Nothing embarrassing had appeared in either Il Gazzettino or La Nuova di Venezia for some time, so Brunetti was without advance warning about what information might be leaking from the Questura.
“These leaks, sir: could you tell me more about them?”
“I wanted to speak to you, Brunetti, because you know people here,” Patta said, reminding Brunetti that this was still the old Patta, for whom any information about the inner workings of the Questura was to be treated as part of the Delphic Mysteries.
Brunetti waved a hand in the air, either to dismiss those hidden truths Patta believed he knew or perhaps to summon them from the vasty deep.
“They talk to you,” Patta insinuated. Hearing Patta’s suspicion relaxed Brunetti and told him that, though the subject might be new, the old, adversarial order had been restored. He tossed away his momentary warming towards Patta and returned to his native good sense.
“What is it you think they’ve been talking about Vice-Questore?”
Patta cleared his throat with a small noise. “I’ve heard rumors that some people are displeased with Lieutenant Scarpa,” Patta said, struggling, it seemed, to keep indignation from his voice. Then, more calmly, as though he considered it of lesser importance, he added, “It also seems that someone has been talking about a person brought in for questioning.”