Rain falls relentlessly on the Po valley in northern Italy, and the river is swollen to its limits. A huge barge leaves its moorings, steering an erratic course downstream and away into the foggy night. When finally it runs aground hours later, the bargeman is nowhere to be found.
That same evening, Commissario Soneri is summoned to investigate the apparent suicide of a man in nearby Parma. He and the bargeman were brothers, and when the detective discovers that they served together in the fascist militia fifty years earlier, the incidents seem likely to be linked. Resentments dating from the savage civil strife between Fascists and Partisans in the closing years of the war still weigh heavily, and as the flood waters begin to ebb, the river yields up its secrets: tales of past brutality, bitter rivalry and revenge.
Valerio Varesi is a penetrating analyst of his country's dark and undigested history.