The disappearance of Inspector Silvio Montalbano's sidekick hits the whole squad room hard.
Insomnia increasingly plagues the Sicilian detective as he slides into his late 50s. So he's even crankier than usual when he picks up his ladylove Livia at the Palermo airport early in the morning for a brief getaway. Livia has never seen some of the more picaresque parts of the island, and Montalbano, as always, needs a break. But a brief stop at the office throws all his plans into disarray when he learns that his faithful second-in-command, Fazio, has gone missing. The vacation is off, and Montalbano begins to retrace Fazio's recent movements, aided (or hindered) by Mimi, his high-maintenance third-in-command, who's made even less attentive by an ongoing quarrel with his wife, Beba. An additional annoyance comes from the presence of a film crew making a TV series based loosely on Montalbano's cases (The Age of Doubt, 2012, etc.). At length, Fazio is found in a hospital, severely banged up and with little memory of the events that landed him there. Investigation reveals that Fazio, who'd been working near the docks on a drug smuggling case, walked into an ambush. The loopy path to a solution, inspired by recent headlines, leads through a potential scandal involving a government official, a secret locale in a remote village and bickering pedicurists.
Montalbano's 15th case features more hilarious bark and some satisfying bite.