Umbria park ranger Sebastiano Cangio searches for a monstrous killer on the loose while he ducks a ruthless crime syndicate.
A short prologue finds a grandfather scaring his impressionable young grandson with the legend of a dozen bodies torn to shreds in the woods back in 1944, during the war. Unknown to either of them, a different kind of savagery is taking place nearby right in the present day, as crime boss don Michele and his thugs torture an eye surgeon who has displeased him. The don’s agenda won’t be complete until he takes homicidal revenge against Cangio, who’s managed so far to elude him (Think Wolf, 2016, etc.). Cangio is searching for a pack of missing wolves who may be responsible for some gruesome deaths that are occurring in the forest. As all this unfolds, a bizarre murder in London, where Cangio once lived, leads dogged Scotland Yard Inspector Desmond Harris all the way to Umbria to consult him. The victim shot neatly through the forehead, and all identifying features burned away with acid, the only scrap of evidence is a receipt from a restaurant in Italy. Cangio will accompany Harris in his search for a gustatory needle in a haystack. Also in the mix are a veiled threat professor Bianchi in northern Veneto receives against his daughter Marisa and a refugee camp in Sicily. What are the odds that Cangio’s new assignment will bring him into don Michele’s orbit?
Gregorio juggles his multiple plot threads briskly if not entirely persuasively. His patching together of seemingly disparate fictional tropes has an offbeat appeal, and his savvy, stand-up ranger is a charming hero.