Inspector Montalbano is getting more and more out or sorts: his long term "girlfriend," more like a wife, with whom he does not live and has not seen for a while and with whom relationships are strained is pushed to the background as the attractive and sophisticated Rachele makes a serious play for the aging detective. The case, seemingly off the wall, concerns the killing of a horse right outside Montalbano's house, then disappearing while the demi-monde characters of the Italian aristocracy and Rachele herself, emerge to involve him in an almost absurd quest to discover the truth - the more mundane underbelly of Sicillian society, involving lies, murder and manipulation. Our hero, at first lolling in a kind of ennui and self doubt. finally emerges and begins to recover his self-esteem and faculties for detection in what is the most distinctive book so far in the series. definitely a slow burn, but certainly a good yarn. This series of detective novels are up there with Chandler and Hammett, less hardboiled perhaps and with more passion, but in their way, great writing in the genre.