Friends in High Places by Donna Leon

When Commissario Guido Brunetti receives a visit from a bureaucrat from the Ufficio Catasto (at his home on a Saturday, no less!). It appears that the apartment he and his family have been living in for years was built without any of the proper permits being filed and therefore he must either provide documentation proving it was built legally or vacate the premises.

Brunetti assumes it is either at best a garden-variety example of Venice’s legendary bureaucratic inefficiency or at worst a clumsy attempt at some kind of official “shakedown”. Like any Venetian he forgoes any official channels and immediately begins to think of who amidst his circle of family, friends, acquaintances, and individuals who owe him a favor he can call on to resolve this problem. But when time passes and he hears nothing more regarding the matter his dismisses it from his mind and gets back to his police work.

The matter is soon brought to his attention again when the young official is found dead not too long after contacting Brunetti and wishing to talk to him in his capacity as a police Commissario. Was this young man’s death an accident as much of the evidence gathered at the crime scene suggests, or is there a more sinister behind the death of someone who’s only crime seems to be overzealous dedication to his job?