What the noir genre does best is present a very average protagonist, usually a kind of down-on-his-luck kind of guy -- someone the reader can easily identify with, and then place him in some kind of moral quandary. Through the story, the reader is forced to consider what their own reactions would be to the situation and thus, their own morality. This slim Italian story is a prime example of this.
In it, we meet a totally unremarkable cobbler named Silvano Contin. Fifteen years ago, he was living a nice middle-class life as a wine salesman with a pretty wife and little boy. However, fate brought them in the path of a pair of escaping bank robbers, one of whom ended up killing the wife and son. This plunged Contin into depression and a general dissociation from the world. Meanwhile, one of the robbers was caught and put in prison for life, while the other was never found. Now, fifteen years later, Raffaello Beggiato is dying of cancer and appealing for clemency, while at the same time, hoping that if he is released, he can use his share of the loot to flee to Brazil and live large for his final days.
As part of the legal process, Contin is asked whether or not he wishes to forgive Beggiato (who swears it was his partner who killed the wife and kid). Contin doesn't forgive him one bit, but calculates that if Beggiato is freed, he might lead Contin to his accomplice, enabling some kind of revenge. Of course, simmering along with Contin's hate for the men who destroyed his life is the question of what we, the reader, would do in the same circumstances. When the Italian judicial system bumbles along and does eventually release Beggiato, it triggers a series of twists and turns worthy of any classic noir film, culminating in a satisfying epilogue. It's a quick and simple read that raises questions within the reader that are not so quickly or simply answered.