When a body is pulled from the canal, Commissario Guido Brunetti is sure he has seen him somewhere. The man is disfigured from a rare disease that thickens his skin. He is dead from multiple stab wounds. The man in the canal carries no identification but he is still wearing one very expensive hand-made shoe. Canvassing the stores on Mestre, the police hear repeatedly that the man was very kind to animals. Eventually, the man is identified as Dottor Andrea Nava, a popular veterinarian.
Guido remembers he saw Nava when the doctor was out of his car, standing at a traffic island, as a demonstration was blocking the road. the farmers objeting to government imposed quotas on milk. If less milk is to be sold, farmers are looking at a significant decrease in income. The solution to their financial problem is to sell more beef for meat.
Animal rights activists and consumer protection advocates combine to create safety measures but these can cut into profits. Anywhere there are profits there is greed and there are the representatives of organized crime. Donna Leon keeps Guido, his family, and the people of Venice players in the dramas of real life. the Brunettis are the family we would enjoy as neighbors. We would undertand each other.
BEASTLY THINGS is a police procedural but it is also a political statement. In one section of the book, Brunetti and Kieutenant Vianello tour a meat processing plant. Readers will not lose any of the story by skipping that section.