Inspector Montalbano's growing obsession with an alluring neighbor may be clouding his judgment as he pursues an elusive bomber.
On his way to work one morning, veteran Sicilian investigator Montalbano spots neighbor Liliana Lombardo fretting over her disabled car and offers her a lift to his mechanic. At the station house, he learns of the bombing of an empty warehouse, on the ground floor of a three-story building. The two investigating cops disagree on motive. Mimì theorizes that it's a reaction to nonpayment of protection money, but Fazio is skeptical and undertakes an investigation of the owner. Or perhaps the bomber was sending a message to a tenant on an upper floor. Montalbano, meanwhile, offers a morning ride to Liliana until her car is repaired and finds himself drifting toward a dalliance with the married woman, even as he realizes that she's duplicitous and probably has other lovers. Fazio learns that a couple of convicted felons list the bombed building as their addresses. Two anonymous letters implicate different people as the target of the bomb, while an anonymous caller claims it went off by accident. Montalbano can't stop obsessing about Liliana and can't resist checking her house for activity. Moreover, his longtime love, Livia, is currently in one of her rejecting phases. Divine intervention—that is, an ill-timed call from Fazio—prevents Montalbano from consummating his affair with Liliana. A second bombing with a similar M.O. and Liliana's disappearance bring the case to a head.
Brisk, biting and cleverly plotted, Montalbano's 18th (Angelica's Smile, 2014, etc.) is both droll and suspenseful.