A hail of bullets interrupts a period of dead calm. An elderly brother and sister open fire on the plaza below their apartment, punishing the people of Vigàta for their sins. News cameras capture Montalbano—gun in hand—as he scales the building to capture the ancient snipers. Inside he finds a nightmarish world of religious objects and a well-worn inflatable sex doll that will come back to haunt him. The Inspector is hailed as a hero after the televised adventure and calm returns. But Montalbano begins to receive cryptic messages in verse, challenging him to go on a “treasure hunt.” Intrigued, he accepts, treating the messages as amusing riddles—until they take a dangerous turn.