Inspector Montalbano: The Sense of Touch, Collection 2, Episode 3

montalbano-3Like the previous episode, The Artist’s Touch, this is another episode based on a short story, rather than an actual book.

The episode starts with an old blind man leaving his house with his guide dog Orlando. The house is not one of the more salubrious places in Sicily, which, despite being near the sea, is a one story structure with the basics. No lighting, a double bed, a chest of drawers, low ceiling. There is none of the wealth and high ceilings displayed in other episodes.
The man’s departure is watched by another man, his face shrouded by hat and upturned collar, who promptly breaks into the house to put something in the medicine bottle beside the bed

The following day, the man’s neighbour walks past and spots Orlando is now outside, but he doesn’t approach the house.  Piccolomini doesn’t answer the calls to the fact that he’s shut his dog out and the neighbour leaves without getting a response.

We’re back to Salvo swimming then having a coffee on his balcony as his phone goes. Caterella calls, leading to telling Salvo about the dead man. Initial thoughts are gas poisoning as the gas hob seems to have be left on, with no ventilation. The neighbour warns that Orlando is dangerous, something Salvo doesn’t believe, as dog has been fine with him.

Not knowing what to do with the dog now the owner is dead, Salvo takes him home. When he tells her, Livia is amused and thinks it a great idea for Salvo to have some company

In investigating the dead man, they come across a charity, “Lux in Umbria” who provided Piccolomini with the guide dog. Salvo doesn’t like the idea that the old man left the dog outside – why would a blind man lock his dog outside? The suicide theory doesn’t sit with him either. The autopsy shows that death was due to overdosing on barbiturates, combined with an unknown heart problem, and that gas in cylinders cannot poison you.

Mario di Stefano, the director of Lux in Umbria, pays Salvo a visit, asks for the dog back. Salvo promises to get around to it, but is in no rush to do so – he thinks the dog is part of the whole situation. Piccolomini’s sister Ignazia runs a hotel in Levanza, which peaks Salvo’s interest, especially when he finds she is a very good cook and that Piccolomini visited every weekend.

Coming back from a swim with the dog, the people from the charity are at Salvo’s front door. Not willing to give the dog back right now, Salvo hides both himself and Orlando.

Salvo meets Ignazia at the funeral and gets invited to stay a while. When Livia comes for a visit, Salvo suggests a trip to Levanza, taking the dog. Once on the ferry, Orlando slips away and greets one of the crew, who gives his impression of the old man as difficult. It’s not long before Livia realises that this holiday is really a job for Salvo and she’s moderately annoyed. The hotel and specifically their room is lovely, with the balcony overlooking beach and sea.Montalbano Livia

Meanwhile, back in Vigata, notes are being found in carafes saying “help they’re killing me” and they’re upsetting Caterella, leading to a call to Salvo. Cue a four way comedy piece between Salvo, Caterella, Fazio and Mimi. Salvo tells Fazio to work out as much as possible about the people who sold the carafe to Caterella.

Whilst sightseeing, in some spectacular looking caves, Orlando runs off again, making his way to a fisherman, Toto Recca, who doesn’t take well to Salvo’s questions. Recca has lots of electrical equipment, but hasn’t taken the boat out in a couple of days. He did take Piccolomini out for a drive every weekend however..

Salvo returns to Vigata for a few days without telling Livia, whilst getting Mimi down to keep her company. Both are angry at him, so wind him up when he rings and playing to his jealous streak.

When in Vigata, the carafe seller has been tracked down and Salvo pays.them a visit. The man is tetchy and evasive and it is clear that he treats his wife badly – which makes Salvo suspect something deeper is going on.

When he returns to the hotel, he gets jealous at the thought of Mimi flirting with Livia and the possibility that she gave in, even though it was his idea. He and Livia have sex in bedroom, then having gone to private beach, have sex again….

Walking the dog early one morning he overhears a conversation between the brother in law (Palomino) and Recca. Later in the day, and during a bike ride with Livia and the dog, they reach a beach where the police  have found a body…it’s Recca. Whilst talking to cabineri, Livia and dog stay away, but Orlando still barks at them.

Finishing their holiday. Livia and Salvo leave, and when getting on the ferry, Orlando reacts badly to a cabineri with a dog. Ferryman remembers Piccolomini losing his stick in the water on one trip back to Vigata and going crazy until it was returned. Stick floated till it was fished out. Somehow Livia forgives Salvo for working during their holiday

Salvo nips home to find that Orlando has disappeared – someone has broken into his home and stolen him. Salvo thinks he’s been dog napped, won’t consider him simply having run away Salvo returns to the office to find Mimi in crisis…he still finds other women attractive, despite having Beba. Salvo tells him to grow up.

Salvo visits the propane gas providers, finds Piccolomini was regular as clockwork, and cylinders always have specific tags on them. The ones in the house didn’t come from usual supplier, therefore can only have come from killer. Meanwhile they test the white stick in water, to find it sinks…Salvo’s theory is that empty ones float, full ones sink.

Galluzo gets to investigate di Stefano’s driver funds he was arrested for illegal dog fights but nothing proved. Salvo makes a visit to kennels in search of Orlando, hears that the dogs have been given away, and that Lux being closed down as they have run out of money.

Salvo has been called by Mrs Sara Tarantino, wife of the carafe seller, who asks him to come round after midnight. She admits she put the messages in the carafes the year before as she feared her husband, but they have sorted things out in a way that she doesn’t want rescuing or protection. Clearly this is a case of Domestic Violence, where he had tied her up for days, she had tried to slit her wrists… But if the victim doesn’t want to take it further, there is nothing Salvo can do, no matter what he feels or wants. Episode shows Salvo’s more sensitive side, that he can get away with not bullying people. Lighting does Zingaretti no harm either….!

Recca also had large of money in his account and following the autopsy it is clear his death wasn’t an accident…

The police pull Palomino in for questioning and he admits he is deep in debt. Salvo points out with Piccolomini’s death all problems are over, but Palomino claims he didn’t know of €400,000. He asks the question though, that on a pension of 500 a month, where did all that money come from?

Salvo goes to visit Cascio, but finds out he died several days previously. Another blind man, officially poor, Salvo finds out from a neighbour that Cascio has died in mysterious circumstances, but leaving a large estate. His guide dog had to be put down as it attacked every dog in sight.

Forensics have found fingerprints on light switch in dead mans house….those of a previous offender – Aloisio, di Stefano’s driver.

Salvo pulls the team in to explain his theory…Russo gives drugs to Piccolomini, who hides the drugs in his  stick, gives the drugs to di Stefano, who gives to Cascio to pass on. Orlando reacts the way he does to dogs and police because he is a trained attack dog. The reason for the killings unclear but possibly cos people want out.

The team raid the Lux site, get shot at, with lots of guns….you don’t get this on Morse! The team find the place is empty with the gunman, Aloisio, having disappeared. Empty hollow white sticks found by the sniffer dogs confirm that part of theory.

Salvo visits di Stefano at home, a short but well framed shot of Salvo walking across empty town square late at night, for him  to be confronted by thick heavy door….compare and contrast with Cascio’s one story beach front council house! Salvo puts scare onto di Stefano, blaming Aloisio, but showing he knows everything. Tells di Stefano that a patrol car will be outside and a wiretap will be on his phone…at which point the phone goes. di Stefano answers it to silence on other end. Finally Salvo leaves, and congratulates Fazio for timing the call perfectly.

Following day di Stefano goes to what I take to be a large farm, where Aloisio is hiding out. He tries to bribe Aloisio for his silence, but pulls out gun when Aloisio refuses, only to be stopped by Salvo and his armed team. Both men taken away, but Salvo demands time to talk to Aloisi on his own. Gives Aloisio three choices: die by di Stefano’s gun, die by Salvo’s gun, or tell Salvo where Orlando is.

Cut to scene where there is another raid breaking up an illegal dog fight in process and a number of dogs including Orlando are released.

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