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In Leon's fifth Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, the beating of renowned art historian Dotoressa Brett Lynch draws the contemporary Venetian police detective out of his warm and loving home and into the yearly onslaught of acqua alta, the torrential winter rains. Brett, an American who spearheaded a recent exhibition of Chinese pottery in Venice, lives with her lover, Flavia Petrelli, the reigning diva of La Scala. With his open mind and good sense, Brunetti finds himself more fazed by Flavia's breathtaking talent than by the nontraditional relationship between the two women. Brunetti's deliberate and humane investigation to uncover a motive for Brett's beating takes him to dark, wet corners of Venice and into a sinister web of art theft, fakery and base human desires.