When you read as many suspense novels in the run of a month as I do, you naturally gravitate toward characters that it would please you to count as friends in real life. For me, that list would include (among others) Martin Walker’s Périgord protagonist, Bruno, Chief of Police; James R. Benn’s wartime hero Billy Boyle; and this month’s entrant, Donna Leon’s Venice Police Inspector Guido Brunetti. His 29th adventure, Unto Us a Son Is Given, starts when a wealthy, elderly man adopts a younger man as his son, causing some consternation among the rich man’s intimates, as the adopted son now stands to inherit the entire estate. Naturally, the old man dies shortly thereafter, and tongues start wagging. Then, when one of his closest confidantes is found strangled to death in her hotel room, the plot begins to thicken like roux over a blue flame. Leon is a multifaceted, effortlessly assured writer. Her plots are innovative and layered, her characters have developed and matured over the course of a lengthy series, and her prose is imbued with wit and compassion on virtually every page. If you are a fan of Louise Penny (and who isn’t?), Leon should be on your short list.