When making enquiries into a possible bribery case, Commissario Brunetti receives a call from his wife. The middle-aged deaf mute with the mental age of a child who helped out at the Brunetti's dry cleaners has been found dead - an 'accidental' overdose of his mother's sleeping pills - and Paola is distraught. To the neighbourhood he was just the 'boy' who helped out, but nobody knew much about him. The man's mother is angry when questioned, and Brunetti senses that there is much more to the story. With the help of Inspector Vianello and the ever-resourceful Signorina Elettra, perhaps Brunetti can get to the truth.