In this latest episode by Donna Leon, Commissario Brunetti is asked by an officer from a neighbouring police force to help investigate a murder believed to be connected with the legal dumping of rubbish, including toxic waste. His father in law also asks him for background information on the business dealings of a businessman who has asked him to become a partner in shipping unspecified gods to China. The subsequent murder of the police officer who has a photograph of the murderer encourages Brunetti to continue the investigation revealing links with the mafia. The book also focuses on Franca Marinello with her disfigured face and her love for classical literature.
As usual there is much reflection on Italian politics, corruption and ethical issues as the story unfolds.