It is autumn in Parma. Commissario Soneri decides to escape the city to return to his home village in the Appenines for a much-needed holiday. He plans to spend the time hunting for mushrooms on the wooded slopes of Montelupo. The small and isolated village revolves around the fortunes of the Rodolfi family, salami manufacturers for generations. Its patriarch, the gifted Palmiro, runs a tight ship, but behind the scenes, all is not well: his son, Paride, has other plans for his future. And then all of a sudden the family finds itself in the throes of a financial scandal, with worrying implications for the entire community. Soon afterwards a hiker discovers a decomposing body in the woods.
After initial protestations, Soneri soon gives up all hope of a peaceful break. The complicated relationship he uncovers between Rodolfi and his son becomes all the more pertinent when he learns that his own father and Palmiro Ridolfi were once friends.