When Commissario Brunetti is summoned to the hospital bedside of a senior paediatrician whose skull has been fractured, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men, a Carabinieri captain and two privates from out of town, have burst into the doctor's apartment....
in the middle of the night, attacked him, and taken away his 18-month old son. What can have motivated such a violent assault by the police? As he investigates, Brunetti begins to uncover a story of infertility, desperation, and an underworld in which babies can be bought for cash.
Meanwhile, Inspector Vianello has uncovered a money-making scam between pharmacists and doctors in the city. But one of the pharmacists is motivated by more than thoughts of gain - the power of knowledge and delusions of moral rectitude can be as destructive and powerful as love of money.
And certain information about one's neighbours can lead to all kinds of corruption and all sorts of pain.