When Commissario Guido Brunetti is visited by a young bureaucrat investigating the lack of official approval for the building of his apartment years before, his first reaction, like any other Venetian, is to think of whom he knows who might bring pressure to bear on the relevant government department. But when the bureaucrat rings Brunetti at work, clearly scared, and is then found dead after a fall from scaffolding, something is clearly going on that has implications greater than the fate of Brunetti's own apartment . . .
Brunetti's investigations take him into unfamiliar areas of Venetian life - drug abuse and loan-sharking - while the deaths of two young drug addicts and the arrest - and subsequent release - of a suspected drug-dealer, reveal, once again, what a difference it makes in Venice to have friends in high places.