Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Acqua Alta” as Want to Read:
Acqua Alta
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Acqua Alta (Commissario Brunetti #5)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  5,661 Ratings  ·  399 Reviews
As Venice braces for a winter tempest, Commissario Guido Brunetti, Donna Leon's intrepid Italian sleuth, finds out that an old friend has been savagely beaten at the palazzo home of reigning diva Flavia Petrelli. Then, as the flood waters rise, a corpse is discovered--and Brunetti must wade through the chaotic city to solve his deadliest case yet. Sinister and exotic, "Acq ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Acqua Alta, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Peggy I have twice been to Venice. Both times, I wandered the streets, getting lost, watching people, sitting in cafes, eating in places where I was the…moreI have twice been to Venice. Both times, I wandered the streets, getting lost, watching people, sitting in cafes, eating in places where I was the only non Italian. The first trip, my husband and I sat next to an Italian couple who suggested going to St Mark Square to listen to the battle of the orchestras. At 2am we wandered through empty lanes meeting cleaners. Dishwashers.and other late workers finishing for the night. Loved it.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 16, 2008 Tatjana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great atmospheric book with the wonderful Venetian Inspector Guido Brunetti.
I really like Donna Leon. I hope she continues to write forever. Her books are always literate and interesting with marvelous characters. The plots are intricate even if her view of Italian society is dark indeed. For example, in Acqua Alta, a woman is seriously beaten by some thugs. Her partner calls for an ambulance, but she is told there are two people ahead of her and she must be placed on a waiting list. Sorry. Once in the hospital every palm must be greased just to get the sheets changed. ...more
Aug 01, 2010 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fourth Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery...just as good as the last. I love these mysteries...and i love that they take place in Venice. Commissario Brunetti is becoming a more complex character in very book. There's great satisfaction in following the same main characters from on mystery to the next.

"When Brunetti's old friend, Brett Lynch, an American expatriate-and distinguished art historian-is horribly beaten by thugs in the apartment she shares with her lover, the commanding and stro
Aug 02, 2010 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And after a long break, we're back to Commissario Brunetti and Venice - for a city that's supposedly so crime-free, I'm impressed at how many detective stories Donna Leon's managed to write that take place there.

Before, in Death at La Fenice, the themes of the day were opera and poisoning; now it's counterfeit antiques and the Mafia. (opera is still heavily featured in this book, but turning to the author bio I see that Donna Leon is an opera expert) Brett Lynch and Flavia Petrelli are back (so
Sep 08, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Boehner
Lesbians and fake Chinese antiquities occupy Brunetti's attention in this snoozer.
(one of 24 books found today at 2nd hand shop...24 for $10!)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 12, 2012 Eddie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read that was turned into a tv movie on MHz. Most of the Brunetti books are enjoyable and fits the genre nicely.
Jul 27, 2014 astried rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read on my Brunetti binge.
- Re-appearance of Brett & Flavia, which leads me to the theme of Brunetti and women. On the 1st book, his proximity was with Brett, there were some sign of attraction, of his curiosity on her background (God save us from men's curiosity...) though they managed to steer it to more or less friendship. Now it's Flavia's turn; I would've missed it completely if there weren't two scenes, one where Flavia cools on him at the mention of his wife, another where Brunetti
Christine Morrison
I have read a few of Donna Leon's books but I have to admit to being very disappointed with this one. There seemed to be no suspense at all, you knew from very early on who had done the murder. It mainly seemed to be about how people cope with flooding in Venice. I also thought it was derogatory towards people from South Italy. If I had read this as the first of her novels, I wouldn't have bothered with others.
Jan 19, 2013 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I found this mystery to be way too self-consciously written to be enjoyable. I've been able to get into some of Donna Leon's other Brunetti books, but in this one I could never shake the knowledge that this was a non-Italian trying very hard to write as if she were one. This kept me from ever being able buy into the mystery or the characters, and made me wish I were reading Magdalene Nabb instead of Leon. I give up on Brunetti.
Mar 07, 2013 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adore the Commissario Guido Brunetti books. They are always so multi layered and the plot commences so simply and then suddenly it becomes a tapestry of interwoven threads. These threads cone to a conclusion but not always in the way you would expect. After all it is set in Italy, the land of mafia, kickbacks and corruption. All levels of Italian society is dealt with in the books, you see Venice as it is and how the venetian's view it. In Venice as in Italy, there is much to love and much to ...more
Aug 12, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really lovely mystery and a chance to spend a little time in Venice, enjoying the city during the acqua alta without having to get my feet (or anything else) wet. Dottor Brunetti is such a lovely man to spend time with and I enjoyed the time spent with Flavia and Brett as well. Elettra and Vianello are wonderful at their jobs and the world of art and opera and food just flows so well through the storyline. The mystery and detecting are well done, and the pacing just sucks you into without stre ...more
Gabi Coatsworth
May 15, 2014 Gabi Coatsworth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I enjoyed this Brunetti novel. A good story and excellent plotting kept me turning the pages. Although I do sometimes wonder exactly how many bodies are found floating in the canals of Venice every year...
Jul 15, 2014 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this fifth installment of the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series, author Donna Leon aptly uses the title to foreshadow the vital role the waters of Venice play in the story. From the heavy rains to the overflowing canal, the setting proves as much an impediment to Brunetti’s investigation as the criminals who use the dark depths of injustice to conceal their true nature.

Brief glimpses into Brunetti’s family life and interactions with his office staff, including a boss swayed by politic
Carol Mello
Jul 25, 2014 Carol Mello rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-read, keepers
This story is actually related to the very first Donna Leon mystery featuring Brunetti. The lesbian lovers are back and involved in another mystery. By the end of the book you know they will never return. I actually liked this one better than the first book. Very dramatic climax. Tons of rain in this book, described in enough detail to convince me never to visit Venice during the rainy season. If I remember this correctly, this is a case where Brunetti knows who is guilty but has a hard time get ...more
Brenda Funk
Oct 31, 2014 Brenda Funk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Commissario Guido Brunetti of Donna Leon's mysteries almost as much as Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache! He has just the right amount of complexity and humanity, struggles constantly with what is 'right' and why people are like they are, do what they do.
The writing is beautiful, as it should be when an English professor is doing it. And I love the setting of Venice, and the many operatic references running through. The author has lived in Venice for 25+ years, and after she retired
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
Another good addition to the Guido Brunetti series. Since it is set in Venice, it is quite different than the more common British or American procedurals. While corruption must exist everywhere, usually covertly, in Italy it is automatically understood to be the routine.
Sally Mouzon
Dec 11, 2015 Sally Mouzon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Flavia Petrelli!
May 25, 2015 Lois rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost the last Brunetti book from my reading list. Donna Leon outdoes herself in this one: Brunetti reconnects with Flavia Petrelli, famed opera diva when Flavia's partner Brett is brutally beaten. Brett, who is an art historian, had mounted a show of ancient Chinese pottery which has now proven to contain fake pieces. The pursuit of the perpetrators takes Brunetti into the world of rabid collectors and again the specter of the Mafia working its way north. Brunetti best explains the Italian app ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Mack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved my pleasant journey off to Venice to solve some mysteries. The bottom line is I like my favourite comfortable character, Brunetti and his family. Guido Brunetti mysteries don’t disappoint me, I admire the plots and the deadly serious games that are played as he find himself involved in a case of a dangerous game of threats, beatings and murder.
Alex is The Romance Fox
Alta Acqua, the 5th book in the Commisario Brunetti series by Donna Leone. The title of the book refers to the time in winter, where water from the Adriatic Sea overflows into Venice causing homes and places in the city.
 photo venice21_zpsm5csjgy9.jpg
Guido Brunetti, the highly skilled, tenacious and very likeable Venetian police detective and family man finds himself investigating a murder and art fraud after his friend, Brett Lynch, an American archeologist and companion of the famous opera singer Flavia Petrelli, who were i
Pamela Mclaren
Feb 15, 2016 Pamela Mclaren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Donna Leon has created quite an enduring character in Commissario Guido Brunetti. Funny, caring and pretty darn smart, he knows the culture and the reality of the world in which he operates.

And in Acqua Alta, he once again strives again to solve a terrible beating and a death as flood waters rise in the city of Venice. A smart, intelligent multifaceted story that keeps the reader riveted to its pages.
Feb 02, 2016 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing and suspenseful entry set during the high water season in Venice. The details of the rain, wind, and difficulty of getting around during that time of year are fascinating. A museum director is murdered and connections are discovered between him and stolen and forged ancient art. Brett Lynch, an American archaeologist with a speciality in ancient Chinese art, is threatened for her knowledge of the art, and her lover, the diva Flavia Petrelli, is beside herself after Brett is severel ...more
Mar 15, 2016 Trina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So enjoyable! A very fast read, not a particularly complex mystery, but the characters are all sympathetic. I liked it mostly because it reminded me of being in Venice in the winter, and Leon is excellent with the atmospheric details.
Karen Coy
I am strangely addicted to these (I've read most of them). Thanks, Karen. There's so little action, yet they all are intriguing.
May 06, 2016 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read the 1st 4 and enjoyed them...not so much this one. It never grabbed my attention. Too many names, locations, and seemingly a lot less character development this time around.

I won't give up on Commissario Guido Brunetti - I'm hoping this is a blip on the radar.
Susan Hirtz
Jul 05, 2016 Susan Hirtz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember when I read this; it was probably several years ago, but it left me with an indelible impression of what it must be like to live in Venice during an "acqua alta". I had seen photos, but when faced with the damage that water can do to stone and particularly to the beautiful architecture of "La Serenissima" on a visit some time ago, one wishes the world would take more interest in protecting the irresistible and timeless wonder of this incredible place.
This is good, and it starts quickly. As opposed to others in the Brunetti series, this beginning is abrupt as a punch. And the first quarter held that action and context interest with art, opera, the high tides of early spring in "Venice with our boots on" detail.

And then there was the middle half. It's filled with inquiry and traipsing details for getting to 50 places and back again, without going into any of the low spots. We also hear about the color of all those boots and their height, or d
Sep 26, 2016 Lcitera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book #5 in this excellent mystery series...and the best one yet. The opera diva we met in Death at Le Fenice returns. The plot centers on the art world, priceless Chinese ceramics from the Xian archeology excavation. Riviting. And the descriptives of beautiful Venice when enduring the floods gives a totally different perspective of the city.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rounding the Mark (Inspector Montalbano, #7)
  • Death of an Englishman (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #1)
  • River of Shadows
  • Vendetta (Aurelio Zen, #2)
  • The Last Judgement (Jonathan Argyll, #4)
  • Carte Blanche
  • The Dark Vineyard (Bruno, Chief of Police #2)
  • Belshazzar's Daughter (Inspector Ikmen #1)
Donna Leon (born September 29, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey) is an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice and featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti.

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over twenty-five years. She has worked as a lecturer in English Literature for the University of Maryland University College - Europe (UMUC-Europe) in Italy, then as a Professor
More about Donna Leon...

Other Books in the Series

Commissario Brunetti (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti, #1)
  • Death in a Strange Country (Commissario Brunetti, #2)
  • Dressed for Death (Commissario Brunetti, #3)
  • Death and Judgment (Commissario Brunetti, #4)
  • Quietly in Their Sleep (Commissario Brunetti, #6)
  • A Noble Radiance (Commissario Brunetti, #7)
  • Fatal Remedies (Commissario Brunetti, #8)
  • Friends in High Places (Commissario Brunetti, #9)
  • A Sea of Troubles (Commissario Brunetti, #10)
  • Wilful Behaviour (Commissario Brunetti, #11)

Share This Book

“Oh, so seldom does fate cast our enemy into our hands, to do with as we will” 8 likes
`But no name?,
'No, Guido. But I'll keep”
More quotes…