When the body of a man is found in a canal, damaged by the tides, carrying no wallet, and wearing only one shoe, Commissario Guido Brunetti has little to work with. No local has filed a missing-person report, and no hotel guests have disappeared. With Inspector Vianello, Brunetti canvasses shoe stores, and winds up on the mainland in Mestre, outside his usual sphere, where they learn that the man had a kindly way with animals. Meanwhile, animal rights and meat consumption are quickly becoming preoccupying issues at the Venice Questura, as well as in Brunetti’s home. With the help of Signorina Elettra, Brunetti and Vianello are able to identify the man and understand why someone wanted him dead.