Apparently this story is the first one not based on a book, and it makes a departure from the usual opening (of Salvo swimming or being woken by Catarella). Instead it starts with a close up of intricate metalwork art being made. Sitting on the workbench, there’s a book titled “Manuscript found in Saragossa”.
A beautiful woman makes early morning visit to an old man called Alberto, there’s lots of mist outside and inside the garden, it’s all very atmospheric, and overall nicely shot. However, inside it’s not mist but smoke which is the result of a fire, and the woman finds something shocking. The coolness and dampness is a good contrast with the next view, which is an inside view looking out onto Salvo’s balcony where he takes his breakfast coffee. Caterella rings to advise of a Russian woman (“Larussa”) being found dead in suspicious circumstances.
This “Russian Woman” is in fact Alberto Larussa, a jeweller that Salvo knew through Livia. Confined to a wheelchair for the last 31 years he seems to have strapped himself into a home made electric chair and killed himself.
The woman who found him is Anna, who is the niece of Larussa’s neighbour, a distant friend to the police and Salvo in particular. Salvo is very charming and flirty, gets a lot of info whilst not giving anything away, something Anna picks him up on.
Meanwhile Mimi is investigating the death of Ignazio Cucchiara a loan shark who had been found shot dead, with no clues or murder weapon left behind.
Larussa, though teetotal, had apparently downed a bottle of whisky before his death. Forensics think it’s suicide, Salvo is not convinced and after the evening news report, a witness comes forward to report seeing car race out of house when he’s walking his dog. Once again great use of old Scicilian actor, with sarcasm, humour and old man repetition.
Caterella proves to be useful as the only one to know how to use the Internet…. Dialup, how quaint! They get a copy of the book found on the bench beside the dead man, but it takes Livia to point out author of book died the same way as Larussa and perhaps its a message. Livia is down for the funeral (since Larussa has made stuff specifically for her), Salvo doesnt attend the funeral himself but picks her up after and Livia spots Salvo’s reaction to Anna but when she questions him about who she is he is vague about her. Salvo spots someone else at the funeral and puts a trace on the car.
Salvo gets another 48 hours to investigate before case gets closed as a suicide. He starts searching the house, cue the use of some great interiors, and he finds a photo album with pictures cut in half…who is missing? A revolver and a copy of the will also found. The person named in will is the person seen by the witness driving way early one morning…it’s the dead man’s brother Giacomo who has yet to come forward. Working with handwriting experts, they establish the will is a fake and it turns out the brother is the man Salvo reacted to at funeral. When they bring him in for questioning, he seems resigned to what ever happens, expecting a kafka-eske experience.
Giacomo is delivered to jail but even Fazio has doubts as to his guilt. During his interview Giacomo says there would be no point faking the will in his favour as he got everything anyway under his father’s will. He was bankrupt however, withdrawing all his money in last few months. However he seems resigned to being in jail though he claims to be innocent of his brothers death.
Salvo interviews the lawyer who looked after the family business. Turns out both men were in love with the same woman, Emma – she’s the one in the photo. She was in love with both but ultimately choose Alberto who did not become crippled in riding accident but by falling down stairs…or was he pushed? Other clues come to the surface to indicate that this was all a ruse by Alberto to get his brother jailed for his death.
Salvo picks up Livia who is down for a visit as he takes a holiday. He pops into work to give them an update, and is stopped by Mimi, who cannot find any reason who killed his loan shark. By fluke Salvo recognises a name of one of the witnesses….it’s Emma. Everything slips into place. Giacomo has been paying her debts, but has run out of money, he goes to Alberto who refuses the money, so Giacomo takes Alberto’s gun, shoots the loan shark Cucchiara, returns the gun to Alberto’s house, not realising that Alberto is already dead.
Giacomo is arrested for death of loan shark – it’s decided that Alberto’s death is a suicide designed to get back at the brother. Salvo allows Giacomo to visit Emma one more time, then allows Mimi the arrest of the loan shark’s killer. He goes home to find Livia (who he left alone in the car hours earlier) asleep on a chair on the balcony. Somehow she forgives him…..