Inspector Montalbano rises one morning to find the carcass of a horse on the beach in front of his seaside home. But no sooner do his men arrive, than the body has mysteriously vanished, leaving behind only a trail in the sand . . . Before long Rachele, a beguiling equestrian champion, turns up at police headquarters to report her horse missing. She had been keeping it at the stables of a certain Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily. Montalbano investigates, and soon things take a more disturbing turn . . . But who has Montalbano upset within this strange, unfamiliar world of horse-racing? And what has the Mafia to do with it all? Maneuvering his way through the colorful demimonde of eccentric aristocrats and high-rolling bourgeois, Montalbano must decipher the cryptic messages being sent by those spying on him and once again call upon his special blend of intuition, analysis, play-acting and Proustian memory for good food, if he is to uncover this latest mystery . . .