From American author Donna Leon, this crime series takes us in Italy, in or around Venice, for some murder mysteries. The series revolves around Guido Brunetti, a happily married father of two vice-commissario of police. Intelligent, pragmatic, and compassionate, Brunetti works with his colleague Lorenzo Vianello to solve crimes for a long time now.
The Commissario Brunetti novels are written in English and, even if all take place in or around Venice and they have been translated into many foreign languages, they are not available in Italian, at Donna Leon’s request. The Commissario Brunetti series was adapted for German television series, from 2000 to 2019, starring Uwe Kockisch and Julia Jäger as Guido and Paola Brunetti (except for the first 4 episodes). There are 26 episodes.
How to read the Guido Brunetti Series in Order?
Every entry in the Guido Brunetti book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Death at La Fenice – Venice is a city almost devoid of crime. But that is little comfort to Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor whose intermission refreshment comes one night with a little something extra in it–cyanide. For Guido Brunetti, vice-commissario of police and genius detective, finding a suspect isn’t a problem; narrowing the large and unconventional group of enemies down to one is.
- Death in a Strange Country – Early one morning Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice Police confronts a grisly sight when the body of a young man is fished out of a fetid canal. All the clues point to a violent mugging, but for Brunetti the motive of robbery seems altogether too convenient.
- Dressed for Death – Guido Brunetti’s hopes of escaping the sweltering heat of Venice in August for a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in a field in Marghera-a body so badly beaten the face is completely unrecognizable.
- Death and Judgment – A truck crashes and spills its dangerous cargo on a treacherous road in the Italian Dolomite Mountains. Meanwhile, a prominent international lawyer is found dead aboard an intercity train bound for Venice. Guido Brunetti suspects a connection between the two tragedies.
- Acqua Alta – Venice detective Guido Brunetti swings into action when the curator of Venice’s most prestigious museum turns up dead, bludgeoned by a priceless artifact, and American archaeologist Brett Lynch, a close friend, narrowly escapes the killer
- Quietly in Their Sleep – Commissario Guido Brunetti comes to the aid of a young nursing sister who has had five patients unexpectedly die and decides to leave her convent.
- A Noble Radiance – A new landowner is summoned urgently to his house not far from Venice when workmen accidentally unearth a macabre grave. The human corpse is badly decomposed, but a ring found nearby proves to be a first clue that reopens an infamous case of kidnapping involving one of Venice’s most aristocratic families.
- Fatal Remedies – In the chill of the Venetian dawn, a sudden act of vandalism shatters the quiet of the city, and Guido Brunetti is shocked to find that the culprit waiting to be apprehended at the scene is his own wife, Paola. She has taken a stand against a travel agency known for a certain kind of shady tourism.
- Friends in High Places – Visited by a young bureaucrat, Guido Brunetti learns that, officially, his apartment does not exist. The extra floor that was added years before was never approved. But what begins as a troublesome headache ends in murder when the bureaucrat is found dead after a mysterious fall from a scaffold.
- A Sea of Troubles – On a beautiful spring morning on the island of Pellestrina, south of the Lido on the Venetian lagoon, a small boat moored at the docks suddenly explodes, killing two local clam fishermen. When it becomes clear that the fire was deliberately set, Guido Brunetti decides to investigate.
- Wilful Behaviour – When Guido Brunetti receives a visit from one of his wife’s students with a strange and vague interest in investigating the possibility of a pardon for a crime committed by her grandfather many years ago, he thinks little of it. But when the girl is found stabbed to death, Claudia Leonardo is no longer Paola’s student, but instead becomes Brunetti’s case.
- Uniform Justice – Guido Brunetti is called to investigate the death of a young cadet. The boy has been found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice’s elite military academy. Brunetti’s sorrow for the boy, so close in age to his own son, is rivaled only by his contempt for a community that is more concerned with protecting the reputation of the school, and its privileged students, than understanding this tragedy.
- Doctored Evidence – After a wealthy elderly woman is found brutally murdered in her apartment, the authorities suspect her maid. But when the maid meets an untimely end trying to escape from border police, and it appears that the money she carried may not have been stolen, Commissario Guido Brunetti decides-unofficially-to take the case on himself.
- Blood from a Stone – On a cold night shortly before Christmas, an immigrant street vendor is killed in Venice’s Campo Santo Stefano. When Commissario Brunetti arrives on the scene, he finds it hard to understand why anyone would murder an illegal immigrant. But once Brunetti begins investigating this unfamiliar Venetian underworld, he discovers that matters of great value are at stake in the immigrant community…
- Through a Glass, Darkly – On a luminous spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant Vianello play hooky from the Questura in order to help Vianello’s friend Marco Ribetti, arrested during an environmental protest. They secure his release, only to be faced by the fury of the man’s father-in-law, Giovanni De Cal, a cantankerous glass factory owner who has been heard in the bars of Murano making violent threats about Ribetti.
- Suffer the Little Children – When Commissario Brunetti is summoned in the middle of the night to the hospital bed of a senior pediatrician, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men had burst into the doctor’s apartment while the family was sleeping, attacked him, and taken away his eighteen-month-old boy.
- The Girl of His Dreams – When a friend of Commissario Guido Brunetti’s brother, a priest who recently returned from years of missionary work in Africa, calls on him with a request, Brunetti suspects the man has hidden motives.
- About Face – A mysterious woman who has been disfigured by excessive plastic surgery visits Guido Brunetti at the Questura and asks a favor. Her request seems to land near his investigation into a suspicious death and the illegal hauling of garbage.
- A Question of Belief – Ispettore Vianello’s aunt has become obsessed with horoscopes and has been withdrawing large amounts of money from the family business. Not knowing what to do, he consults Guido Brunetti and asks permission to trail her.
- Drawing Conclusions – Late one night, Guido Brunetti is called away from dinner to investigate the death of a widow in her modest apartment. Though there are some signs of a struggle, the medical examiner rules that she died of a heart attack. It seems there is nothing to investigate. But Brunetti can’t shake the feeling that something or someone may have triggered her heart attack.
- Beastly Things – When an unidentified murder victim winds up in a canal, Guido Brunetti travels beyond his usual sphere to find the connection between the dead man and a local slaughterhouse.
- The Golden Egg – Guido Brunetti’s wife Paola comes to him with a request. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry clearers has suffered a fatal sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing or helping him. Brunetti investigates the death and is surprised to find nothing on the man.
- By Its Cover – Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books.
- Falling in Love – As an opera superstar, Flavia Petrelli is well acquainted with attention from adoring fans and aspiring singers. But when one anonymous admirer inundates her with bouquets of yellow roses, it becomes clear that this fan has become a potentially dangerous stalker. Distraught, Flavia turns to Guido Brunetti for help.
- The Waters of Eternal Youth – Guido Brunetti is investigating a cold case by request of the grand Contessa Lando-Continui. Fifteen years ago the Contessa’s teenage granddaughter, Manuela, was found drowning in a canal. Manuela, now aged thirty, cannot remember the accident. The Contessa, unconvinced that this was an accident, implores Brunetti to find the culprit she believes was responsible for ruining Manuela’s life.
- Earthly Remains – When Guido Brunetti is granted leave from the Questura, his wife, Paola, suggests he stay at the villa of a relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the laguna. The recuperative stay goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house on Sant’Erasmo, goes missing following a sudden storm.
- The Temptation of Forgiveness – Important information is leaking from inside the Venetian Questura, and Commissario Guido Brunetti is tasked with uncovering the culprit. But before Brunetti can begin his investigation, a friend of his wife’s comes asking for his help, fearful that her son is using drugs.
- Unto Us a Son Is Given – As a favor to his wealthy father-in-law, Guido Brunetti agrees to investigate the seemingly innocent wish of the Count’s best friend to adopt a younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws, this man would become the sole heir to Gonzalo’s substantial fortune, something which Gonzalo’s friends find appalling. For his part, Brunetti wonders why they’re so intent on meddling in the old man’s business.
- Trace Elements – When Dottoressa Donato calls the Questura to report that a dying patient at the hospice Fatebenefratelli wants to speak to the police, Commissario Guido Brunetti, and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, waste no time in responding. Brunetti uncovers a threat to the entire region.
- Transient Desires – Guido Brunetti faces a heinous crime committed outside his jurisdiction. He is drawn in innocently enough: two young American women have been badly injured in a boating accident, joyriding in the Laguna with two young Italians. However, Brunetti’s curiosity is aroused by the behavior of the young men, who abandoned the victims after taking them to the hospital. If the injuries were the result of an accident, why did they want to avoid association with it?
- Give Unto Others – Brunetti is approached for a favor by Elisabetta Foscarini, a woman he knows casually, but her mother was good to Brunetti’s mother, so he feels obliged to at least look into the matter privately, and not as official police business. Foscarini’s son-in-law, Enrico Fenzo, has alarmed his wife (her daughter) by confessing their family might be in danger because of something he’s involved with. Since Fenzo is an accountant, Brunetti logically suspects the cause of danger is related to the finances of a client. Yet his clients seem benign…
- So Shall You Reap – On a cold November evening, Guido Brunetti and Paola are up late when a call from his colleague Ispettore Vianello arrives, alerting the Commissario that a hand has been seen in one of Venice’s canals. The body is soon found, and Brunetti is assigned to investigate the murder of an undocumented Sri Lankan immigrant. Because no official record of the man’s presence in Venice exists, Brunetti is forced to use the city’s far richer sources of information: gossip and the memories of people who knew the victim. Curiously, he had been living in a garden house on the grounds of a palazzo owned by a university professor, in which Brunetti discovers books revealing the victim’s interest in Buddhism, the revolutionary Tamil Tigers, and the last crop of Italian political terrorists, active in the 1980s.
- A Refiner’s Fire (coming in 2024) – Around one AM on an early spring morning, two teenage gangs are arrested after clashing violently in one of Venice’s squares. Commissario Claudia Griffoni, on duty that night, perhaps ill-advisedly walks the last of the boys home because his father, Dario Monforte, failed to pick him up at the Questura. Coincidentally, Guido Brunetti is asked to vet Monforte for a job by a wealthy friend of Vice-Questore Patta, triggering Brunetti’s memory that twenty years earlier Monforte had been publicly celebrated as the hero of a devastating bombing of the Italian military compound in Iraq. Yet Monforte had never been awarded a medal either by the Carabinieri, his service branch, or by the Italian government.
If you like our article about the Guido Brunetti Mysteries in order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also want to check out the Inspector Montalbano novels, the Bruno, Chief of Police series, or the Aurelio Zen series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.