This mystery is less focused on plot and more on the emotional frustrations of the characters. Mimi Augello (Cesare Bocci) is still agonizing over whether to marry his fiancée or not, especially when he encounters an ex-lover Clementina (Gigliola Raja) who upbraids him for his lack of constancy. Maria Stella Cosentino (Daniela Marazzita) falls in love for a con-artist who does not reciprocate her love; he has a homosexual relationship with his accomplice. Doomed to a life of perpetual isolation after her father's death, Maria Stella lives alone in a barn-like house with many empty rooms, rather like Manderley in Daphne Du Maurier's REBECCA. Montalbano (Luca Zingaretti) sympathizes with her plight, to such an extent that he is prepared to put his reputation on the line by breaking the law. The entire episode is about loss: Montalbano has a rare show of temper as he discovers that an old olive tree close to his seaside home has been uprooted to make way for a new house; he encounters a man who is hard of hearing and finds it difficult to communicate his purposes, and loses his temper once more. There are humorous moments - for example a sequence where a multicolored parrot recites extracts from "The Communist Manifesto," much to Montalbano's amusement - but the episode is more meditative in tone with an ending paying more than a passing homage to William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" (1930).
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