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Posted: August 18, 2019

Leon leaves invisible footprints on the souls of the caring

Book Review

By Derryll White

Leon, Donna (1995).  Death and Judgment.

            “This is the end of evildoers.

            The death of the perfidious

            Is always the same as their lives.”— ‘Don Giovanni’ – Mozart/DaPonte.

This is another masterpiece from Donna Leon, but perhaps of a different kind. Venice, Italy, is still lauded often, but the normal vibrant sense of place is subdued by the greed and usury of men. ‘Death and Judgment’ spends time pulling the reader’s interest toward the international trade in women, the enslaving of young women from around Europe and the world in the trade of prostitution. And it is a huge trade involving a half million women.

Leon ties in child pornography, snuff films and other sad artifacts of the se x trade. She is clear that this is very big business, controlled by the financial powers of industry and the elite power-mongers of government. She is clear that this is all dollar-driven business and the well-being, and even life, of the women is incidental to the profits.

Donna Leon leaves her feelings on the page. Her story is designed to reach men, to make them consider the repercussions of sexual acts based only on the personal needs. Leon leaves invisible footprints on the soul of any caring individual who reads this novel. It is without question the most powerful work of hers that I have read thus far.

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Excerpts from the novel:

ITALY – Italy is a country in which many laws are passed one day, only to be repealed the next.  Nor is it strange that, in a country where the point of even the simplest newspaper story is often impossible to decipher, there sometimes exists a measure of confusion as to the exact meaning of the law.  The resulting fluidity of interpretation creates a climate most propitious to lawyers, who claim the ability to understand the law.

VENICE – He turned right and walked up toward the plaza, and Brunetti found himself, to his own vast surprise, looking kindly upon the tourists who strolled past him, mouths agape and steps slowed by wonder.  She could still knock them over, this old whore of a city, and Brunetti, her true son, protective of her in her age, felt a surge of mingled pride and delight and hoped that those people who walked by would see him and somehow know him for a Venetian and, in that, part heir to and part owner of all of this.

MURDER – One of the most savage elements in murder, Brunettit had always believed, was the way it mercilessly cut off possibility and stopped the victim from ever again achieving anything.

POLITICS – All, or what seemed like all, of the major political figures who had ruled the country since Brunetti was a child had been named in accusation, named again on different charges, and had even begun to name one another, and yet not one of them had been tried and sentenced, though the coffers of the state had been sucked dry.  They’d had their snouts in the public trough for decades, yet nothing seemed strong enough – not public rage, not an upwelling of national disgust – to sweep them from power.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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