When a 9 year old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well, an immigrant peddlar is accused of the crime.
Guido Guerrieri has had problems of his own, with a distingrated marriage, a bad dose of anxiety attacks and a life spiralling downwards, but he finds himself taking on the case of the Senegalese peddlar and withstanding the pressure of the local prosecutors for a quick and decisive "guilty" verdict.
This is a differently constructed book from a lot of crime fiction in that there is a real concentration on Guido and his life and problems. This concentration allows the reader time to get to know Guido, long before he takes Abdou's case and does his own thinking about the prosecution brief.
As Guido takes control of his own life, he starts to take control of the case of Abdou who seems to have been charged simply because he was a convenient African and a circumstantial case could be built.