Inspector Montalbano is awake at dawn, sitting on his porch, when his attention is caught by a seagull which falls from the sky, performing a strange dance, before lying down to die. Montalbano is perplexed by what he has witnessed and the scene hangs over him like an omen.
About to depart for a holiday with his girlfriend Livia, Montalbano makes a quick trip to the police station to tie up loose ends. But when his dear colleague Fazio is discovered missing – and it transpires that the policeman has been involved in his own secret investigations – Montalbano instead launches a desperate search for his lost friend, as time begins to run out...
Navigating a shadowy maze of smuggling, blackmail and the darkest murder, and moving from the docks of Vigata to its deep, dry wells where the mafia hide their terrible crimes, Inspector Montalbano must have his wits about him to unravel this tangled mystery.