10 Best Donna Leon Books 2024 (Updated)

Which are the best books by Donna Leon?

Donna Leon is an American author known for her crime novels set in Venice, Italy. She was born on September 28, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey. Leon is best known for her series of books featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, a police detective in Venice.

Leon worked as an English literature lecturer at the University of Maryland’s campus in Italy and later as a literature professor at the University of Maryland, Europe. She moved to Venice in 1981 and began writing crime novels set in the city.

She has written over 30 novels in the series, featuring Brunetti solving crimes while navigating the complexities of Venetian society and bureaucracy.

Donna Leon’s novels are known for their atmospheric descriptions of Venice, intricate plotting, and social commentary. She often explores themes of corruption, justice, and the impact of crime on individuals and society. Her books also delve into Italian culture, politics, and the city’s unique challenges and charms.

Donna Leon’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and have gained a wide international readership. She has received several awards for her work, including the CWA Silver Dagger for Fiction and the German Corine Literature Prize.

List of Top 10 Books by Donna Leon

I have made a list of the top 10 books by Donna Leon for when you’re looking for an enthralling read. 

1. Death at La Fenice (1992)

In Donna Leon’s debut novel, “Death at La Fenice,” Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates a shocking crime that takes place during a performance at Venice’s renowned opera house, La Fenice. 

The victim is a world-famous conductor, and it becomes apparent that his death was not due to natural causes. As Brunetti delves into the case, he uncovers a web of secrets, rivalries, and hidden motives within the opera world. 

Get the book here: Death at La Fenice

2. Acqua Alta (1996)

In “Acqua Alta,” Venice experiences a period of extreme flooding known as “acqua alta,” which coincides with a troubling case that lands on Commissario Brunetti’s desk. 

As rising waters inundate the city, Brunetti is tasked with investigating the theft of rare books from a library. However, the seemingly straightforward crime soon leads him down a path of art forgery, corrupt collectors, and dangerous secrets. 

Get the book here: Acqua Alta

3. Quietly in Their Sleep (1997)

In “Quietly in Their Sleep,” Commissario Brunetti is drawn into a troubling case involving the suspicious death of a young hospital patient. 

As he begins to dig deeper, Brunetti discovers a sinister connection between the deaths of several psychiatric patients and the questionable practices of pharmaceutical companies. 

With his characteristic perseverance and refusal to turn a blind eye to corruption, Brunetti unveils a shocking conspiracy that not only puts lives at risk but also exposes the dark side of the medical industry.

Get the book here: Quietly in Their Sleep

4. A Noble Radiance (1997)

In “A Noble Radiance,” Brunetti is called to investigate the death of a seemingly innocent elderly woman. As he delves into the woman’s past and her prominent family, Brunetti uncovers a complex web of vendettas, secrets, and conflicting loyalties. 

Against the backdrop of aristocratic privilege and social hierarchy, Brunetti navigates the intricate dynamics of a family torn apart by resentments and rivalries. 

With his sharp wit and relentless pursuit of justice, Brunetti unravels the truth behind the seemingly idyllic facade of Venetian nobility.

Get the book here: A Noble Radiance

5. Uniform Justice (2003)

In “Uniform Justice,” Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to investigate the death of a young cadet at a military academy in Venice. 

The apparent suicide of the promising young man raises suspicions, and as Brunetti delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a culture of bullying and abuse within the academy. 

As he navigates the closed ranks of the military institution, he must confront the formidable resistance of those in power who seek to protect their reputation. 

Get the book here: Uniform Justice

6. Doctored Evidence (2004)

In “Doctored Evidence,” Commissario Brunetti investigates the death of a widow named Franca Marinello, who died after participating in a clinical trial for a new drug. 

As he looks into the circumstances surrounding her death, Brunetti discovers a world of illegal drug trials, unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, and unethical medical practices. 

His investigation uncovers a web of lies, manipulation, and greed as he seeks justice for the victim and her grieving family. 

Get the book here: Doctored Evidence

7. Through a Glass, Darkly (2006)

Through a Glass, Darkly” finds Commissario Brunetti drawn into the secretive world of Venetian glassblowers. When a young shopkeeper, Marina Fiorato, is assaulted in her family’s glass shop, Brunetti is determined to uncover the truth. 

His investigation leads him to the unique art of glassblowing and the intricate world of Venetian glass. As he delves deeper, Brunetti uncovers a trail of jealousy, rivalry, and deceit. 

Get the book here: Through a Glass, Darkly

8. About Face (2009)

In “About Face,” Commissario Brunetti is faced with a perplexing case when a bureaucrat is found dead in his car. As Brunetti delves into the investigation, he discovers a web of corruption, political maneuvering, and a tangle of personal vendettas. 

The case takes him into the heart of Italian politics, where power and influence are wielded with cunning precision. As Brunetti navigates this treacherous landscape, he must untangle the intricate threads connecting the victim’s death to the highest levels of authority. 

Get the book here: About Face

9. Drawing Conclusions (2011)

In “Drawing Conclusions,” Commissario Guido Brunetti finds himself intrigued by a collection of valuable drawings owned by a friend’s widow. 

As he delves deeper into the origins of the artwork, Brunetti uncovers a decades-old art heist that involved the Nazi occupation of Venice during World War II. The investigation takes him into the world of art dealers, collectors, and forgers, revealing a network of illicit activities. 

Get the book here: Drawing Conclusions

10. By Its Cover (2014)

In “By Its Cover,” Donna Leon explores the theft of rare books from Venice’s prestigious Biblioteca Merula. When valuable pages are cut out of books without leaving a trace, Commissario Brunetti is assigned to uncover the culprit behind these audacious crimes. 

As he investigates, Brunetti delves into the world of bibliophiles, scholars, and collectors, discovering a passionate and sometimes unscrupulous subculture.

Get the book here: By Its Cover


How many books has Donna Leon written?

Donna Leon has written over 30 books in her Commissario Guido Brunetti series, a few standalone novels, and a cookbook.

Are Donna Leon’s books meant to be read in order?

While Donna Leon’s books generally follow a chronological order, each book can be read as a standalone story. 

Has Donna Leon’s work been adapted for television or film?

Yes, Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series has been adapted into a television series called “Commissario Brunetti Mysteries.” 

Is Donna Leon an American author?

Yes, Donna Leon was born and raised in the United States. 

Are Donna Leon’s books translated into multiple languages?

Yes, Donna Leon’s books have been widely translated into numerous languages.


Donna Leon is an acclaimed American author known for her crime novels set in Venice, Italy. Her series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti has garnered a dedicated following due to its atmospheric descriptions, intricate plotting, and social commentary. 

Her works have been translated into multiple languages and have gained international recognition.

Whether you’re a fan of mysteries, interested in Italian culture, or enjoy atmospheric settings, Donna Leon’s books provide an engaging and enriching reading experience.


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