Barely a month has passed since Livia and Salvo decided to spend some time apart. Salvo is gloomy and confused. While investigating the robbery of some 60 security boxes at a small local bank, he seeks the advice of rival bank manager Stella Parenti, whom he’d met during a previous case. Alluring Stella makes no secret of being taken with Salvo and asks him out. Has Montalbano found a way to eclipse his melancholy thoughts of Livia?
Meanwhile, another case presents itself to the Vigata inspector – a retired doctor is found murdered in his own home. The resulting investigation will echo Montalbano’s personal dilemmas about the complexities of love.
“Don’t you think it’s time to snap out of it?”
“It’s only been a month.”
And so began the episode, quickly followed by talk of circuses and a rubbery – that Catarella eh, what is he like!
Barracuda the banker had opened his bank only three months previously and had already many clients. He claimed to help farmers, unlikely in Vigata, and was trying to attract fishermen but it seemed likely that the 60 safety deposit boxes were something to do with the Mafia. Later it was said to be more to do with sharp practices, small print on contracts hiding exorbitant interest rates and loan sharking.
Montalbano got some useful information from Stella Parenti, the pretty bank manager he had met in a previous episode, and she was obviously smitten with him so invited him to the circus and the fortune teller followed by dinner next door. Mimi of course turned up which made Montalbano want to change plans. The real interest of the evening was the fortune teller who made an accusation of murder. Montalbano ended up leaving the bank manager at her door and took an older woman home so she would not get thrown into a ditch or murdered.
Salvo at this stage of his life was still in contact with his father who told him what Barracuda’s bank’s reputation was.
The murdered doctor’s fiancee seemed to cast doubt on the theory that the murder was about inheritance as there were no children or nephews.
Eva Riccardi, the fortune teller, had disappeared. Her suitcase contained bullets – had she extracted revenge from the doctor for his earlier crimes as a Black Shirt?
Montalbano meanwhile continued to miss Livia so much that he couldn’t bring himself to sleep with Stella. “I’m not ready,” seemed a bit girlie but Stella seemed to understand.
Eva claimed the murderer was the doctor’s fiancee and not herself. She wouldn’t be drawn into discussions about whether Livia was the girl for him or not but advised him to not let a bad experience change him for the worse.
Of course cherchez la femme remained a good way to operate and it wasn’t quite as simplistic as one might have expected.
And, naturally, Montalbano reached his “crossroads” in the airport and chose what we all knew he would.