It was supposed to be a much-needed Italian holiday from grueling academia for Gideon Oliver. True, his wife, Julie, is there to help their friend Phil run a guided tour, but Gideon himself is looking forward to a few days' R and R. So when Phil invites the couple to his wealthy family's idyllic island in Lake Maggiore, the Olivers accept with enthusiasm. But the breathtaking view and sumptuous food come at a price.
The family padrone's only child, Achille, has been kidnapped. Soon after, nearby construction workers unearth some bones, which Colonel Caravale of the local carabinieri calls on Gideon to identify. Chilled by the thought that the bones might be Achille's, the family anticipates the result with a mixture of dread and cautious hope. Accepting the task is the only gracious thing to do and, besides, Gideon finds that being on his own while Julie is working is less than satisfying. So he sets out to identify the bones - and along the way, exposes some extraordinary deceptions that lay bare the malignant, long-hidden secrets at the dark heart of a highborn family.
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