In a small village at the foot of the Italian Dolomites the gardens of a deserted farmhouse have lain untouched for decades. But the new owner, keen for renovations to begin, is summoned urgently to the house when his workmen disturb a macabre grave.
Wild animals have done their grisly work and the human corpse is badly decomposed. Then a valuable signet ring is found close by, providing the first vital clue. It leads Commissario Guido Brunetti right to the heart of aristocratic Venice, to a family still grieving for their abducted son.