For Commissario Guido Brunetti it began with an early morning phone call. A sudden act of vandalism had just been committed in the chill Venetian dawn, a rock thrown in anger through the window of a building in the deserted city. But soon Brunetti finds out that the perpetrator is no petty criminal intent on some annoying anonymous act. For the culprit waiting to be apprehended at the scene of the crime is none other than Paola Brunetti. His wife.
As Paola's actions provoke a crisis in the Brunetti household, Brunetti himself is under pressure at work: a daring robbery with Mafia connections is then linked to a suspicious accidental death and his superiors need quick results. But now Brunetti's own career is under threat as his professional and personal lives clash - and the conspiracy which Paola had risked everything to expose draws him inexorably to the brink . . .