Joe Moss You can read it as a stand-alone but it is much better to read the series from the beginning. Although very slowly, the characters do age/grow-up/develop over the course of the series. I'm not sure I see much point in starting here - if you have a choice. And I should warn you this is one of the most atypical of all the Brunetti novels.
Ioanna every book stands on its own and she kind of keeps you informed as to basics like anyone who does a series does, for example, sue grafton with her Kinsey milhone character.......but if I were you, I would start with the first and read chronologically...mainly because if you love her, you're going to read them all anyway....
Sue I think it would prbably be fine as a stand alone. I didn't start reading the series at the beginning, though having dipped my toe in the water I then went back to read others, not necessarily in order, as they became available through the library service. Do take the chance - you may fall in love with these books!
Dorothy I'd say no. This is by far the weakest book in the series, and may put you off reading the rest of the series, which would be a great shame. As I said in my review, a good Brunetti book is like a holiday in Venice, with the police procedural as a bonus - this one never develops much atmosphere.