Brunetti’s father-in-law, the Count Falier, urges Brunetti to investigate and intervene in the seemingly innocent plan of the Count’s best friend, the elderly Gonzalo Rodríguez de Tejeda, to adopt a much younger man as his son. Under Italian inheritance laws this man would become heir to Gonzalo’s entire fortune, a prospect Gonzalo’s friends find appalling. For his part, Brunetti wonders why the old man can’t be allowed his pleasure in peace. Not long after Gonzalo unexpectedly passes away, one of Gonzalo’s oldest friends, just arrived in Venice for the memorial service, is strangled in her hotel room. Now with an urgent case to solve, Brunetti is drawn reluctantly into the long-hidden mystery in Gonzalo’s life that ultimately led to murder.