A full plate of unsolved crimes is not enough to prevent a veteran Sicilian police inspector from flirting with disaster.
Inspector Salvo Montalbano's day off is spoiled by bad dreams and the unexpected arrival of the island's deputy police commissioner. Though the visit is abruptly cancelled, Montalbano hauls his out-of-sorts form into the station anyway, where he feels more grounded. Later he goes to the opening of a new art gallery, "Il piccolo porto," where he finds a rare mutual attraction with the owner, Mariangela De Rosa. Uncharacteristically, Montalbano enters into an affair with Marian, the first time he's cheated on his longtime high-maintenance lady love, Livia. To banish his guilt, Montalbano dives into work, of which, fortunately, there's a surfeit. There's a bizarre case of a woman robbed at gunpoint and then kissed by the thief, a burglary at a nearby jewelry shop, a pair of Tunisian refugees on the loose in Sicily, and the murder of possible Mafioso Carmelo Savastano. But with all this in the mix, what Montalbano is most obsessed about is his "situation with Livia and Marian," the latter of whom surprises him by pressing for a relationship. Nevertheless, he probes the case of the kissing bandit, finding numerous inconsistencies in the account of the victim, Loredana di Marta, and follows up on the Tunisians. Still, an important personal decision looms.
Montalbano's 19th outing has a more melancholy tone than his previous cases (Game of Mirrors, 2015, etc.) but also boasts a nifty, twisty mystery at its core.