Inflatable sex dolls, the delivery of a sheep's head, Harry Potter run amok: What madness has Inspector Montalbano gotten himself into now?
Devout brother and sister Gregorio and Caterina Palmisano trigger a panic in the Sicilian town of Vigata when they hang banners from the balcony of their apartment warning local sinners to REPENT! Each week, a new banner appears, more fervent than the last. When police visit the lodging, the duo turn snipers, shooting at the would-be intruders. Upon searching their apartment after they are taken into custody, Montalbano finds a creepy excess of crucifixes and a blow-up sex doll with distinct markings on Gregorio's bed. He takes it home for safekeeping and adds an unlikely twin, discovered in a Dumpster. Not long after, Montalbano begins receiving cryptic verses challenging him to a "treasure hunt." He takes this invitation lightly, a bit of escapism, until a package containing a sheep's head gives him pause. When his lovely and flirtatious old flame Ingrid asks him to mentor a young friend who's passionate about law enforcement, Montalbano, seeing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, sets the young Arturo, a dead ringer for Harry Potter, onto the hunt. The young man responds like a conquistador. The mood is abruptly darkened by the disappearance of a local teenage girl, which Camilleri expertly ties to all that has happened heretofore.
Montalbano's 16th case (The Dance of the Seagull, 2013, etc.) is his most entertaining in years, veering from slapstick humor to Grand Guignol with aplomb.