Three separate groups converge on the beautiful Italian city of Vicenza: two fellows from Oxford and their group of undergraduates; a world-renowned American professor of architecture and his family; and a young, wealthy couple with a penchant for extravagent displays of wealth who keep to themselves and travel with bodyguards.
All three groups gather in the Teatro Olimpico for the American professor's lecture. The next morning, one of the Oxford fellows is found murdered on the stage of the theater, shot four times in the chest, his feet bound together. Lord Francis Powerscourt of London is called in to investigate. He soon discovers shocking secrets about members of the audience that night, secrets that connect all three groups. The American professor suddenly goes missing and is found three days later, shot to death and dumped in a cesspit.
Trusting no one, Powerscourt investigates the murder in solitude. He eventually learns the dangerous truth about the young wealthy couple, one that leads back to both the Cosa Nostra, the violent New York criminal organization, and the Sicilian Mafia.