It all began with an unusual assignment, a job better suited for Marlowe than for counsel for the defence Guido Guerrieri. Could he find new evidence to force the police to reopen their investigation about the disappearance of Manuela, the daughter of a rich couple living in Bari? The stories of Manuela's druggy university friends don't quite add up. Her best friend, Caterina, too beautiful and certainly too young for Guerrieri, is a temptation he doesn't need. While the investigation proceeds, Guido fights his loneliness by talking to the punching bag hanging in his living-room and by walking the streets of Bari late at night, often visiting a colourful bar owned by a former client and ex-prostitute. She somehow provides the clue that explains Manuela's disappearance.