Olivia, an American-born model, married Count Ugo Brunamonti, a feckless, soon impoverished aristocrat. After his death, she supported her children by starting a fashion house, which has prospered. When she is kidnapped, the crime is reported to Marshal Guarnaccia by her daughter, who may have been the intended victim.
Kidnapping is almost a second business for the Sardinians nominally engaged in raising sheep in the Tuscan hills. They inhabit a vast wilderness where a victim can be hidden away forever, and where those searching for her will be quickly spotted. The government's official policy is not to permit the payment of ransom. But if the money isn't paid, the kidnappers cannot let their victim go free. It would set a bad example. In this case, Guarnaccia suspects another problem. Can it be that Olivia's children are unwilling to pay the ransom? Is this more than a random crime?
Much as I'm cautious about authors exploring non-native cultures, especially in series, I have to admit my affection for Guarnaccia, Carabiniere Marshall (NCO) in branch office in Florence, displaced Sicilian, happily married with two sons, knowing his patch after 20 years, humane, wise, observant, empathetic, but nevertheless flawed. Overweight, incapable of managing without the traditional support of his wife, who does at least have a baptismal name (unlike Mme Maigret, poor woman), but abstemious, lacking greed and ambition, but sadly also faith or political belief, he seems like a good man without moral or ethical foundations, so possibly vulnerable to despair in the longer run.
I like this story with its twists and turns and exotic setting - for us - and complex psychological development of major characters.
Bill Wallis was such a terrific narrator that I was drawn to acquire this book, and loads of others, just because he read them. He's never disappointed me yet on Audible.
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