A year after the events in Vendetta, detective Aurelio Zen is happily seeing Tania, who separated from the husband who erroneously accused them of having an affair the year before.
Zen is called to conduct an independent investigation of what looks like a suicide in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, which is an independent state inside Rome. A body fell from the dome -- that of Ludovico Ruspanti, an inveterate gambler and playboy from a dying noble family. Zen can tell right away it wasn't suicide, and an anonymous fax to the newspapers several days later claims Ruspanti was connected with a super-secret organization within the Knights of Malta (to whom Ruspanti belonged in an honorary sort of way). The victim also was under investigation for money laundering. The fax adds that Zen has falsified evidence to support the bogus suicide story.
As Zen follows the case, a Vatican security guard who was detailed to keep Ruspanti under surveillance gets electrocuted and a Milanese magistrate interested in prosecuting the case gets pushed under a train. But Zen has a hard time concentrating on the case because Tania, newly free from a constricting marriage, seems to be keeping secrets from her new boyfriend, too: a strange man answers her phone, and she has a lot of money that doesn't gibe with her administrative assistant position at the Ministry. This 1992 detective thriller is the third in Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series.
This report prepared by David Loftus