The Guardians of the Lagoon

Original title: I Guardiani della laguna

Author: Lanzotti, Paolo

Publication Date:

January 2021



Original language and publisher

Italian | TRE60 Publisher

Territories Handled

Netherlands, Scandinavia, World English


Historical Fiction

The Guardians of the Lagoon

Original title: I Guardiani della laguna

Author: Lanzotti, Paolo


‘I guardiani della laguna’ is a novel that unfolds with the lightness of Burano lace and the melancholic fragile opalescence of Murano glass, but just as the lace shows and hides, so the festive and joyful appearances of carnival festivities actually conceal international intrigues and heinous crimes. —

A novel that represents a splendid journey into the past, starring one of the most beautiful and extraordinary cities in the world, of which the author has become a skilful leader, sublime narrator, and perfect director. — Il mondo incantato dei libri

The book’s fast pace is worthy of an excellent crime novel, but what makes this work a little gem is the setting. Lanzotti, naturally and without effort, describes the corrupt and decadent Venetian environment as well as the foggy and frigid January climate, creating a masterful picture.— Milanonera

‘The Guardians of the Lagoon’ is a magnetic and irresistible historical thriller, you will be drawn into one of the most intricate investigations you can imagine. An exceptional protagonist will be your mentor, a wise companion, a man who must stay in the shadows, a witty secret agent, one of the Black Angels of the Venetian Inquisition. — Septem Literary

Between theatres, performances by great and famous playwrights, calli, canals, masks, deadly and not-so-deadly nocturnal ambushes and a few very pleasant detours into dialect, Paolo Lanzotti succeeds in transferring us, in the time it takes to read his book, to the most intriguing city in the world when it was still the Serenissima, before its slow but ineluctable decline. —Contorni di noir

A historical novel set in an atmosphere laden with all the charm and mystery of eighteenth-century Venice.

The first in a series of novels featuring Marco Leon: secret agent of the Serenissima.

Venice 1753

During the carnival, Marco Leon, a secret agent and member of the State Inquisition, investigates a double homicide committed inside the Sant’Angelo theater during a performance of The Mistress of the Inn by Carlo Goldoni. The two victims (a young patrician, Giovanni Coredo, and a second-rate actor, Bernardo Flamini) would appear to have nothing in common with one another. While within theater circles, many had a reason to hold a grudge against Flamini, it’s harder to find a motive behind the death of Coredo. Is this double murder nothing but a coincidence? As the investigation proceeds, among secret informants scattered around the city, interrogations, gondola chases and ambushes, events start to take on ever more complex and dangerous connotations.

Soon, what at first had appeared to be an open-and-shut murder case turns into a matter of major international intrigue…

Amid narrow streets and canals, masked figures and the occasional dip into the local vernacular, Paolo Lanzotti skillfully manages to immerse the reader in the atmosphere of the most fascinating city in the world at a time when it was still known as the Repubblica Serenissima (‘Most Serene Republic of Venice’) captured here in its heyday.

They called him the Lion of Venice. He was the finest secret agent in the Serenissima. And yet, officially, he did not exist. Leon was not his real name but more of a label, behind which lay an identity and a past to be forgotten. A precarious marriage which had come to a tragic end. The loss of a noble title. Marco Leon had had to start over from scratch. His peculiar blend of intelligence, pride and moral integrity embodied the glorious past of the Republic. But now the Venetians preferred to intoxicate themselves with frivolities rather than react to the impending decline. Most Venetians that is. But not the Lion.

A historical novel that will win the hearts of the readers of Matteo Strukul.


“Marco Leon was a shadow. Just one of the many ghosts that populated that city of lights and mists. He should not have allowed himself to be influenced by the magic of a mystery reflected in the waters of the lagoon.”

“The city was preparing for another night of madness. Desire reigned. The desire to devour, at any cost, what remained of life.”

“Venice was the place where everything seemed to be voted to excess. Venice was a dream. Erotic fantasy. But at dawn, eroticism dies. Dreams turn to sand…”

Marketing Information

  • Over 6,000 copies sold, 2 reprints
  • A sequel will be published in 2022