The lazy, slow month of August at the height of the Sicilian summer is, Inspector Montalbano assures his girlfriend Livia as they prepare for a relaxing holiday in a villa he has found for them, far too hot for any murders to be committed. But when Livia's friends' young son goes missing, a chain of events is sparked which will certainly ruin the Chief Inspector's pleasant interlude.
A secret apartment and a grisly find in an old trunk are just the beginning, as Montalbano navigates his way through the case, as well as coping with the sweltering heat, the suspicious death of an Arab labourer and the tempting lure of a beautiful girl . . .