Olivia, an American-born model, married Count Ugo Brunamonti, a feckless, soon impoverished aristocrat. After his death, she supported her children by starting a fashion house which has prospered. When she is kidnapped, the crime is reported to Marshal Guarnaccia by her daughter, who may have been the intended victim.
Kidnapping is almost a second business for the Sardinians nominally engaged in raising sheep in the Tuscan hills. They inhabit a vast wilderness where a victim can be hidden away forever, and where those searching for her will be quickly spotted. The government's official policy is not to permit the payment of ransom. But if the money isn't paid, the kidnappers cannot let their victim go free. It would set a bad example.
In this case, Guarnaccia suspects another problem. Can it be that Olivia's children are unwilling to pay the ransom? Is this more than a random crime?