Commissario Brunetti is one of those detectives you wish you could find around your dinner table. He is kind, smart, well-read, thoughtful and determined to see the increasingly elusive justice served in his hometown.
As Venetians prepare for the awful winter flooding of the acqua alta by donning high rubber boots and sloshing through the cobbled streets, Brunetti finds out that his friend Brett, l'Americana, who is an expert in early Chinese pottery and ceramics, has been horribly beaten by Sicilian strangers in the comfort of her exclusive palazzo while her girlfriend, the reigning diva, Flavia Petrelli, is singing along to one of her own recordings at full blast in an adjacent room.
As the waters rise, Brunetti discovers the corpse of the director of the Doge's museum--the very man Brett Lynch was disuaded from contacting by her attackers. Will she be next?
Leon balances the tension and the horror of Brunetti's work life with the loving stability of his home life with his professor wife Paola and their adolescent children Chiara and Raffi.