EXCLUSIVE– Amber Entertainment has optioned American author Donna Leon’s “Acqua Alta,” the fifth in her series of 17 bestselling mysteries set in Venice, Italy, looking to start a franchise centered around the protag, police inspector Guido Brunetti.

“It’s the first time Donna has optioned film rights,” producer Ileen Maisel said. “We are excited because she trusts our team.”

Leon will collaborate on the screenplay for “Acqua Alta” in which Brunetti probes the beating of an American art historian living on the Venetian lagoon with her lesbian lover, the reigning diva of La Scala.

Leon’s books have been translated in 20 countries. Los Angeles and London-based Amber, which was launched last year by former New Line execs Jane Fleming, Maisel and Mark Ordesky, along with British documentarian and TV producer Lawrence Elman, was formed with the intent to give authors input on their literary adaptations which also include Rebecca Stead’s kids tome “When You Reach Me.”