"So why did this Smerca wait all this time to report the incident?" asked Augello. "Because his daughter didn't want him to. She didn't like the idea of everyone in town talking about her." "Was she raped?" "No." "Robbed?" "No." "So what'd the guy kidnap her for?"
After a hectic morning, Inspector Montalbano finally arrives back at his office ready to find out what's troubling Vigàta this week. What he discovers is unnerving. A woman on her way home from work has been held up at gunpoint, chloroformed and kidnapped, but then released just hours later - unharmed and with all her possessions - into the open countryside.
Later that day, Montalbano hears from Enzo, the owner of his favourite restaurant, that his niece has recently been the victim of the exact same crime. Before long, a third instance of this baffling overnight kidnapping has been reported.
As far as Montalbano can tell, there is no link between the attacker and the victims. So what exactly is this mystery assailant gaining from these fleeting kidnappings? Who are they? And what can be done to stop them? Montalbano must use all his logic and intuition if he is to answer these pressing questions before the overnight kidnapper finds their next victim . . .