I could've sworn that I've read this one before. I know I spent time going through Donna Leon's books because it constituted a big portion of English books collection in a local library near my house in Germany. I remember thinking about Acqua Alta when I finally visited Venice & reading the posters around the city in relation to this book. But the story I remember seems to be different from the one I read now. I thought the beginning started with an explanation about Acqua Alta and what Venetian think about it. Turns out it's somewhere in the middle. I remember reading about the water level going up and up and Venetian changing their walking route to find one with shallower water. But I couldn't remember anything about the crime itself.Well, anyway, though I do like to read detective & mystery books most of the time I don't really read it for the mystery. I do like reading it like seeing a jigzaw puzzle slowly being set up until you see the full picture. But more often than not I pay attention more on the people & what's happening with them instead of raking my head trying to solve it before the protagonist. After all, after reading so many detective story the cases bound to be mixed up in my small chamber of remembrance.The good thing is, this book reminds me how I like reading Donna Leon & her Venice. I had this foolish romance with Venice and I spent many years in college dreaming about it. Why Venice? perhaps the same reason some people romanticize Paris. My dream started from architectural books and the wonder of a city having only canal ways and it has a sepia tinge in my head. Anyhow, visiting it was a bit let down just because my imagination about it was too high. Which is a shame, I didn't really give Venice a lot of chance of enchanting me. I guess another visit is due.Going back to the book, what I like about it is how Donna Leon captured Venice. I read a review last week about a book on an American experience living in Paris; the reviewer was saying how the book showed a standard-in-a-movie Paris instead of how it really feels living in Paris. My own experience with Paris is a weekend years ago, so it doesn't really count. However a friend did live there for a year and what she was telling me surprised me. She was telling me the happy people in Paris are foreigner, french who are visiting the city, tourist, etc. She told the Parisian are actually has this air of depression on them, lonely people, people who would drop by to have a coffee and eat alone, in contrast of this image of Paris as a city of love. Another conversation brought out how Paris is not a city for family, with the high rent & the hassle of public transportation. I was rather shocked listening to this (well, no, not that kind of shock) but thinking about it further, I wonder why I was surprised. After all, there is a difference in knowing a city from a movie (since when does it really capture an essence of a place)or book and knowing it by living in it. With this in mind, I ticked off the Paris book as something I don't want to read.Donna Leon's book doesn't do that. It's not a book with tourist-Venice as a background. The Venice inside is filled with Venetian getting pissed off by the inconvenience of waterway instead of driveable road. With the Venetian struggling to do their daily living while the water rise around them. No poetic beauty in there. Imagine people in Jakarta loving the yearly flood that visits the city. Nah, it won't catch. So yes, this is Venice, where everyone has a pair of boot, where the water is brackish (it was brackish, I saw it myself), where there's such thing as too much tourists, where as Brunetti regretted it's impossible to bring your groceries with your car up to your front door and instead have to carry up and down bridges and staircases (having carrying enough groceries without owning a car in other city, I do sympathize a lot with this), where the people despite not having car nor the road to drive it are reading car magazine. And you know, I think I'd rather read about this Venice than the dream Venice I had before. There's something about disillusionment and it's not always bad. Who knows, after reading more about it I might fall in love again with Venice. About the Venetian in the book itself, despite Brunetti being a police and this is a book where law is supposed to be uphold, the people are realistically lax with the law/rule. And the fun thing is that they are unapologetic about it. This is how they are. I remember another detective story by [a:Tarquin Hall|26953|Tarquin Hall|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1277773926p2/26953.jpg], this one is set in India. Not really a place famous for order. But surrounded by this chaos environment, Vish Puri the PI stood on his pedestal & judge & judge & judge. Sure, he understood his country & countryman and he's not beyond giving bribery, but the general air was him as the last bastion of law. Someone beyond the corrupt police force, beyond adultery, a loving husband, devoted father, respectful son, a torch bringer of tradition, amen. I read 2 of his books with a feeling that there's something bothering me, not knowing what it is until now. Brunetti, he know he has to work around things to get things done, because this is Italy, but nothing wrong or out of ordinary about it. When he had his drug scare, it's more because of what drugs can do to his son & not because he's a law enforcer. Faced with Brett as a tight American, he developed an understanding with Flavia, tolerating Brett & totally convinced that their way of life is better & healthier. And I suppose it is. I mean, he's a police officer who comes home for lunch and in bed at 10pm with his wife! He's the healthiest & sanest detective compared to Wallander & Sam Spade; heck, he's leading healthier life style than I do. This is a point brought up also in BBC WBC & reminded me of Jasper Fforde's jab with his detective decided to change his character from sad lonely detective to a loyal husband with family in [b:The Well of Lost Plots|27001|The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)|Jasper Fforde|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1304713470s/27001.jpg|1116054].I have to say, though, that I don't really like Brett. At first I thought she's the nicer person compared to Flavia, but 3/4 into the story I just felt her as a childish stubborn girl, especially with the story of her refusing to take vaccination in China which led her to falling sick, is that how a responsible adult act? Flavia is also stubborn but I don't think she's being stubborn for stubborn's sake.Well, this has been a rambling review with me going tangent to at least another 3 books, not all I've read so I better stop now and read another Brunetti.