You Appear, Unexpectedly . . . in Donna Leon

You, Filipina, you appear in the most unexpected places. In novels or mysteries written by bestselling authors, for instance.

Today, on p. 234 of Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti mystery, Death and Judgment (which was actually a re-print of a book that first appeared in 1996), the Philippines is mentioned in the course of Brunetti’s investigation of a prostitution ring.

Self decides to make a note of it. Apropos of nothing. Except that prostitution is bad and she wishes it didn’t happen — to anyone, regardless of nationality.

In all self’s decades of reading novels and mysteries, she can tick off on the fingers of one hand the number of books she’s read that have to do with prostitution, and now she’s read two of them, back-to-back: Death and Judgment, and Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Which means that her November reading has been dark, dark, super-dark. That, coupled with the Mockingjay, Part 1 movie, has just about killed her. Yes, self is aware that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. You’re welcome. The bird is being picked up later.

Euro-Employ was only one of the many agencies engaged in the trade in young women, and it was hardly the worst. All of the papers the women signed before they went off to “work” in Europe were entirely legal. The fact that the papers were signed with the X by an illiterate or by a woman who didn’t speak the language of the contract in no way compromised their legality, though none of the women who managed to return to the Philippines thought or sought to bring a legal claim against the agency. In any case, so far as Linchianko knew, very few returned.

And that’s it.

The tale is indeed very sordid, but it’s sensationalistic, too. A shipment of girls from Eastern Europe crashes and all the “cargo” is killed. Hmmm, wonder if there are really rings that do this: ship girls by truck. She remembers watching a Rachel Weisz movie about a similar subject, years ago. Naturally, it was dark and etc. And all the victims came from Eastern Europe. Self wonders whether it really is as cut-and-dried as this, or whether the mechanism is more complex, less predictable, and she concludes that it must be so.

Anyhoo, onward.

Stay tuned.

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