Beastly Things

Beastly Things by Donna Leon Read Free Book Online

Book: Beastly Things by Donna Leon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Donna Leon
Giustinian this morning, sir.’
    ‘The drowned man?’ Patta asked.
    ‘The report must have been confused, sir,’ Brunetti said, remaining at some distance from Patta’s desk. ‘There was water in his lungs: that’s in Rizzardi’s report. But he was stabbed before he went into the water. Three times.’
    ‘So it’s murder?’ Patta said in a voice that registered understanding but was devoid of interest or curiosity.
    ‘Yes, sir.’
    ‘You better take a seat, then, Brunetti,’ Patta said, as though he had suddenly noticed that the man in front of him was still standing.
    ‘Thank you, sir,’ answered Brunetti. He sat, careful not to make any sudden moves, at least not until he figured out Patta’s mood.
    ‘Why would someone stab him and put him in the water?’ Patta asked, and Brunetti refused to allow himself to answer that, if he knew why, he could go out and arrest the person who did it and thus save them all a great deal of time and effort.
    ‘Do you have an identification?’ Patta asked before Brunetti could respond to his first question.
    ‘Signorina Elettra is working on it, sir.’
    ‘I see,’ Patta said and left it at that. Abruptly, the Vice -Questore got to his feet and walked over to the window. He stood gazing out of it for so long that Brunetti began to wonder if he should ask him something in order to recapture his attention, but he decided to wait it out. Patta opened the window and let a draught of soft air into the room, then closed it and came back to his chair. ‘Do you want it?’ he asked when he sat back down.
    The options open to Brunetti made the question ludicrous. His choices were Pucetti’s baggage handlers, the anticipated increase in pickpocketing that springtime and Easter were bound to bring to the city, the never-ending illegal harvesting of clams, or a murder. But softly, softly, he warned himself. Never let Patta know what you are thinking, and never ever let him know what you want. ‘If there’s no one else free to handle it, sir. I could pass the Chioggia case’ – how much better than calling it the illegal clamming – ‘to the uniformed branch. Two of them are Chiogiotti and could probably use their families to find out who’s digging the clams.’ Eight years at university to chase after illegal clammers.
    ‘All right. Take Griffoni: she might like a murder for a change.’ Still, after all these years, Patta could astonish him with some of the things he said.
    He could also astonish Brunetti with the things he did not know. ‘She’s in Rome, sir: that course in domestic violence.’
    ‘Ah, of course, of course,’ Patta said with the wave of a man so busy that he could not be expected to remember everything.
    ‘Vianello isn’t assigned to anything at the moment.’
    ‘Take anyone you want,’ Patta said expansively. ‘We can’t have something like this happening.’
    ‘No, sir. Of course not.’
    ‘A person can’t come to this city and be murdered.’ Patta managed to sound indignant, but there was no way to tell if his emotions were aroused by what had happened to the man or because of what would happen to tourism as a result. Brunetti did not want to ask.
    ‘I’ll get busy with it then, sir.’
    ‘Yes, do,’ Patta told him. ‘Keep me informed of what happens.’
    ‘Of course, sir,’ Brunetti said. He glanced at Patta, but he had started to read one of the papers that lay on his desk. Saying nothing, Brunetti let himself out of the office.

    HE CLOSED THE door behind him. In response to Signorina Elettra’s glance, Brunetti said as he approached her desk, ‘He asked me to take the case.’
    She smiled. ‘Asked, or did you have to encourage him?’
    ‘No, the suggestion was his. He even told me to ask Griffoni to work on it with me.’ If her smile had been connected to a dimmer, his words had turned the knob down. He went on, as though he had noticed nothing peculiar about her response to the attractive blonde Commissario’s

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