In 1941, in a Ukrainian village abandoned by the Soviet troops, von Bora meets Vladimir Propp, the scientist from Leningrad who had discovered the universal pattern of fairy tales. With this expert in folklore to help him, von Bora starts probing the murder of a witch/prostitute. In Prague in 1942, while Heydrich is planning the Final Solution for the Czech Jews, two old people in the courtyard below his window catch von Bora’s eye, during an investigation into the assassination of a collaborationist. The old teacher who reports his own son to the Nazis, in a village in occupied Russia, takes von Bora back to a family vendetta in those bloody lands. In the second part of the book, the other stories take place under the sunnier skies of occupied Italy. A crime of passion near Verona in 1943, involving a priest, a widow, and the guards of Salò. A jeweler in Littoria, killed over a brooch with a telling name: the love knot. An old man on a train, in Tuscany in 1944, who describes the murder of two lovers. A sort of family feud in the Appennines involving a shrewd resistance fighter.

Born in Rome, Ben Pastor, a social sciences professor at U.S. universities for many years, has tried her hand at different genres for her fiction, with a particular focus on the classic crime novel. Of her Martin Bora series, Sellerio has published to date Il Signore delle cento ossa (2011), Lumen (2012), Il cielo di stagno (2013), Luna bugiarda (2013), La strada per Itaca (2014), Kaputt Mundi (2015), I piccoli fuochi (2016), Il morto in piazza (2017), La notte delle stelle cadenti (2018), La canzone del cavaliere (2019), La sinagoga degli zingari (2021), La Venere di Salò (2022), and La finestra sui tetti e altri racconti con Martin Bora (2023).