Acqua Alta by Donna Leon

I just had a really nice lunch hour. It’s beautiful outside, sunny but not too warm, so I took the dog for a walk and listened to Aqua Alta. Then I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich with American cheese and apples and finished listening to the mystery. Mind you, the fact that it was American cheese is notable simply because usually I have to use cheddar, Amber hates American.

Like I mentioned I listened to the audio version of this read by Anna Fields. This is actually the fifth in the series but my first introduction to Guido Brunetti, a policeman in Venice. I didn’t feel like I missed anything major by not reading any of the others first, although I guess a couple of the other characters, my two favorites actually, also had parts in a previous book.

Brunetti is investigating the brutal beating of a friend of his, American art historian Brett Lynch. Before her attackers, left they warned her not to keep an appointment with museum director Francesco Semenzano who later winds up murdered. Brunetti must figure out how the murder and the theft Brett had discovered of some Chinese pottery are connected and who is pulling the strings.

Venice truly comes alive in this book. It’s a character in and of itself, cold and wet as the acqua alta rises and locals know to keep their boots and umbrellas ready. The city sounds while not necessarily beautiful at this season, certainly fascinating, full of history and culture and politics.

Brunetti is an intelligent, compassionate man. He doesn’t always follow the book, but he gets his job done. I could have done without the scenes involving his family. I guess they shed more light on him, but really didn’t add to the story for me. Luckily there were only a couple of them. Actually, now that I think about it, it was mostly his kids that I didn’t care about. His wife was rather an interesting woman.

The story is suspenseful, you know probably midway through who is responsible, but getting to the end, how is Brunetti going to prove it, is tense and the action keeps moving. The climax is gripping and I like that in the end, it is doubtful that the guilty party will ever be punished. It seemed realistic to me. Money talks, no matter where you are.

I will definitely be reading more of this series. It’s the type of story I enjoy: strong characters, good writing, a complex plot that’s not impossible to follow, and a strong setting.

Commissario Brunetti #5
First published 1996
8 hours, 39 minutes

Challenge: 100+

My copy was borrowed from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


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