Text: "Books set in Venice." Image of a gondola positioned in a waterway within a sunlit portion of Venice.

Books Set in Venice

Travel to the “Floating City” with this collection of narratives set in Venice.

General Fiction & Mystery


A Beautiful Crime / Christopher Bollen

Nick Brink and his boyfriend Clay Guillory are running away from their turbulent lives in New York City, each desperate for a happier, freer future someplace else. Their method of escape? Selling a collection of counterfeit antiques to a brash, unsuspecting American living out his retirement years in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. As it turns out, tricking a millionaire out of money isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when Clay and Nick let greed get the best of them. As Nick falls under the spell of Venice’s decrepit magic, Clay comes to terms with personal loss and the price of letting go of the past. Also available as an audiobook on Libby, by OverDrive.


Commissario Guido Brunetti series / Donna Leon

There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. When a crime happens, it becomes the purview of Commissario Guido Brunetti, a suave, urbane officer who possesses a genius for detection alongside an empathetic and moral spirit that often leaves him torn between what is and what should be right – and questioning what the law can do, and what needs to be done. This ongoing series starts with Death at La Fenice. Also available as an ebook and television series on hoopla.


Death in the Floating City / Tasha Alexander

Years ago, Emma Callum scandalized polite society when she eloped to Venice with an Italian count. But now her father-in-law lies murdered and her husband has vanished. She turns to her childhood nemesis, Lady Emily Ashton, who leaves for Venice at once with her husband, the dashing Colin Hargreaves. Lady Emily’s investigations take her from opulent palazzi to slums, libraries, and bordellos. To solve the present-day crime, she must first unravel a centuries-old puzzle. Seventh in the ongoing Lady Emily Ashton series.


Island of the Mad / Laurie R. King

The last thing Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, need is to help an old friend with her mad, missing aunt. Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, since the loss of her brother and father in the Great War. Although her mental state seemed to be improving, she’s now disappeared. Russell wants nothing to do with the case—but she can’t say no. To track down the vanished woman, she must use her deductive instincts and talent for subterfuge—and enlist her husband’s legendary prowess. Book fifteen in an ongoing series. Also available as an audiobook on CD.

Historical Fiction


All the Lost Places / Amanda Dykes

Discovered floating in a basket along the canals of Venice in 1807, Sebastien Trovato wrestles with questions of his origins. Decades later, on an assignment to translate a rare book, Daniel Goodman finds himself embroiled in a web of secrets carefully kept within the ancient city and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien. Also available as an ebook through hoopladigital.


In the Company of the Courtesan / Sarah Dunant

In 1527, when the city of Rome is sacked and burned by an invading army, the famed courtesan Fiammetta Bianchini and her dwarf companion, Bucino Teodoldi, escape to the wealthy and powerful city of Venice in order to rebuild their business, but they soon discover unexpected temptations and challenges that will have profound repercussions for them all.


Palace of the Drowned / Christine Mangan

Years have passed since the initial success of Frankie Croy’s debut novel and she has spent her career trying to live up to the expectations. Now, after a particularly scathing review of her most recent work, alongside a very public breakdown, she needs to recharge and get re-inspired. Gilly, a precocious young admirer eager to make friends appears and seems determined to insinuate herself into Frankie’s solitary life. But there’s something about the young woman that gives Frankie pause. As a series of lies and revelations emerge, the lives of these two women will be tragically altered as the catastrophic 1966 flooding of Venice ravages the city. Also available in Large Print.


Death in Venice / Thomas Mann

Written in 1912, this novella is the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer, who visits Venice and is liberated, uplifted, and then increasingly obsessed by the sight of a beautiful youth, a Polish teenager named Tadzio.

Fantasy & Science Fiction


Foundryside / Robert Jackson Bennett

Thief Sancia Grado has been sent, unbeknownst to her, to steal an artifact of unimaginable power from the Merchant Houses who control magic. Now someone in the Houses wants Sancia dead and the artifact for themselves, and in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them. First book in the Founders trilogy.


The Masked City / Genevieve Cogman

Librarian-spy Irene must travel to a strange alternate-world Venice to prevent a catastrophic war that has been triggered by the abduction of her royal dragon apprentice, Kai. His abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader and navigate dark magic, strange coincidences and a perpetual celebration of Carnival. Second book in the Invisible Library series.

The Republic of Thieves / Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora, slowly succumbing to poison, and his trusted partner Jean Tannen flee to the city-state of Karthain where the price of Locke’s rescue gets the duo involved in running an election campaign where the parties are fronts for two factions of terrifyingly powerful mages. His opponent? The love of his life, his equal in skill and wit: Sabetha. Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend. Book three in an ongoing series. Available as a multi-book series on Libby, by OverDrive.


The Tethered Mage / Melissa Caruso

Bookish Lady Amalia Cornaro will one day have to step into her mother’s role as intelligencer and politically powerful member of the Council of Nine, rulers of the Serene Empire of Raverra. But her reluctant entree into politics comes more quickly than she would have expected or wished when she volunteers to bind herself to Zaira, a rogue warlock who in a fit of anger has unleashed balefire that could devastate the whole city. Amalia will have to win over the furious warlock and take a more active political role when it becomes clear that someone is fomenting war between Raverra and Ardence, a neighboring client realm where Amalia has many friends. Set in a land inspired by late-17th-century Venice, but with magic, gender equality, and same-sex marriage. First in a trilogy.


Valour and Vanity / Mary Robinette Kowal

Master glamourists Jane and Vincent plan to travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs, who take everything they own. Arriving in Murano destitute, they are helped by a kind local, but Vincent is determined to become self-reliant and get their money back and hatches a plan to do so. Many things are not what they seem and even the best laid plans conceal a few pitfalls. The ensuing adventure is a combination of the best parts of magical fantasy and heist novels, set against a glorious Regency backdrop. Fourth in a five-book series.


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The City of Falling Angels / John Berendt

Opening on the evening of January 29, 1996, when a sensational fire destroys the historic La Fenice Opera House, Berendt gradually reveals the truth behind the fire. Encountering a rich cast of characters, Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise, as the stories build, ultimately coming together to portray a world where architectural treasures crumble, foundations shift, and ornaments fall, even as efforts to preserve them are underway. Also available as an audiobook on Libby, by OverDrive.

Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon / Andrea di Robilant

In the attic of their family palazzo, Andrea di Robilant’s father discovers a box of eighteenth-century love letters which thrust Andrea into an adventure of familial intrigue that will carry him back to the golden era of Venice and into the secret love affair between his anscestor, Venetian statesman Andrea Memmo, and Giustiniana Wynne, a beautiful half-English girl who would never have been considered a suitable match. His narrative evokes the world of mask-wearing men and ladies attending Goldini plays and gambling at the Ridotto, bringing to life a tale of passion and intrigue.

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Venice: Pure City / Peter Ackyroyd

An evocative portrait that draws on historical and cultural sources to provide richly detailed descriptions: the merchants on the Rialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the glassblowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; the artists—Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo; the ever-present undertone of Venice’s shadowy corners and dead ends, of prisons and punishment, wars and sieges, scandals and seductions, citing the events and people that have shaped the city’s evolution. Also available as an audiobook on hoopla.