When Commissario Brunetti is summoned in the middle of the night to the hospital bed of a pediatrician, he is confronted with more questions than answers. Three men, a young carabiniere captain and two privates from out of town, burst into the doctor's apartment while the family was sleeping, attacked him, and took away his 18-month-old boy. What could have motivated an assault by the forces of the state that was so violent it has left the doctor mute?
As Brunetti delves into the case, he begins to uncover a story of infertility, desperation, and illegal dealings. Then his colleague, Inspector Vianello, discovers a money-making scam between pharmacists and doctors in the city. Medical records are missing and it appears as if one of the pharmacists is after more than money. What secrets are in the records? And what has been done with them?