with your investigation of Signora Gismondi?'

'I assume you've spoken to the Vice-Questore and he's given you his permission to involve yourself in this, sir,' Scarpa said blandly.

'Lieutenant, I asked you a question,' Brunetti said.

Perhaps Scarpa thought he could stall for time; perhaps he was curious to see how far he could push Brunetti. 'I've spoken to some of her neighbours about her whereabouts on the morning of the murder, sir’ he said, glancing at Brunetti. When Brunetti failed to react, Scarpa went on, 'And I've called her employers to ask if this story about being in London at the time is true’

'And is that how you phrased it, Lieutenant?'

Scarpa made a tentative little gesture with one hand and said, 'I'm not sure I understand what you mean, Commissario.'

'Is that how you asked them: whether the story she's been giving the police is true? Or did you merely ask where she was?'

'Oh, I'm afraid I don't remember that, sir. I was more concerned with discovering the truth than with niceties of language.'

'And what answers did you get in your attempt to discover the truth. Lieutenant?'

‘I haven't found anyone who contradicts her story, sir, and it seems she was in London when she said she was.'

'So she was telling the truth?' Brunetti asked.

'It would appear so’ Scarpa said with exaggerated reluctance, then added, 'At least until I find someone who tells me that she is not.'

'Well, Lieutenant, that's not going to happen.'

Scarpa looked up, startled. 'I beg your pardon, sir.'

'It's not going to happen, Lieutenant, because you are going to stop, as of now, asking questions about Signora Gismondi.'

'I'm afraid my duty as…' Scarpa began.

Brunetti cracked. He leaned over Scarpa's desk and put his face a few centimetres from the lieutenant's. He noted that the younger man's breath smelled faintly of mint. 'If you question another person about her, Lieutenant, I will break you.'

Scarpa yanked his head back in astonishment. His mouth fell open.

Leaning even farther over the desk, Brunetti thumped his palms flat on its surface and again moved his face close to Scarpa's. 'If I learn that you speak to anyone about her or insinuate that she had anything to do with this, I will have you out of here, Lieutenant.' Brunetti raised his right hand and grabbed the lapel of Scarpa's jacket, tightening his hand into a fist and yanking him forward.

Brunetti's face was suffused with blood and rage. 'Do you understand me, Lieutenant?'

Scarpa tried to speak, but all he could do was open his mouth, then close it.

Brunetti pushed him away and left the office. In the corridor he almost bumped into Pucetti, who was wheeling away from Scarpa's door. 'Ah, Commissario,' the young officer said, his face a study in blandness, ‘I wanted to ask you about the duty rosters for next week, but I couldn't help overhearing you settle them just now with Lieutenant Scarpa, so I won't trouble you with them.' His face sober and respectful, Pucetti gave a sharp salute, and Brunetti went back to his office.

There, he waited, sure that Bocchese would call him when he got back with news of whatever he had found in Signora Battestini's attic. He called Lalli, Masiero and Desideri and told them they could call off the dogs, for he thought he had found the old woman's killer. None of them asked who it was; all of them thanked him for calling.

He also phoned Signorina Elettra and told her the probable meaning of the phone call to the school board. 'Why would she call him out of the blue like that, that last time?' she asked when he told her. 'Things had been continuing for more than a decade, and the only other time she contacted him in all those years was when we switched to the Euro.' Before he could ask, she supplied, 'Yes, I've checked her phone calls for the last ten years. Those were the only calls between them.' She paused for a long time and then said, 'It doesn't make any sense.'

'Maybe she got greedy,' Brunetti suggested.

'At eighty-three?' Signorina Elettra asked. 'Let me think about it,' she said and hung up.

After another hour, he walked down to Bocchese's office, but one of the technicians said his chief was still out at some crime scene over in Cannaregio. Brunetti drifted down to the bar near the bridge and had a glass of wine and a panino, then walked out to the riva and looked across at San Giorgio and, beyond it, the Redentore. Then he went back to his office.

He had been back little more than ten minutes, trying to impose order upon the accumulation of objects in the drawers of his desk, when Signorina Elettra appeared at his door. Her shoes were green, he had time to notice before she said, 'You were right, Commissario.' Then in answer to his unspoken question, she explained, 'She got greedy.' And before he could ask about that, she said, 'You said all she did was sit and watch television, didn't you?'

It took him a moment to return from the consideration of that green, but when he did he said, 'Yes. Everyone in the neighbourhood talked about it.'

'Then look at this’ she said. Approaching his desk, she handed him a photocopy of the familiar television listings that appeared in the Gazzettino every day. 'Look at 11 p.m., sir.'

He did and saw that the local channel was presenting a documentary called ‘I Nostri Professionisti. 'Our local professional what?' he asked.

Ignoring his question, she said, 'Now look at the date.'

The end of July, three days before the murder, the day before Signora Battestini's phone call to the school board.

'And?' he asked, handing the paper back to her.

'One of our 'local professionals' was Dottor Mauro Rossi, the head of the school board, interviewed by Alessandra Duca.'

'How did you find this?' His surprise did not mask his admiration.

'I did a cross-reference search with his name and the television listings for the last few weeks,' she said. 'It seemed the only way she could ever have learned anything, since all she ever did was watch television’ 'And?' Brunetti asked.

‘I spoke to the journalist, who said it was just the usual puff piece: interviewing bureaucrats about their fascinating work in city administration – the sort of thing they show late at night and no one watches’

This sounded to Brunetti like a blanket description of all local broadcasting, but he said only, 'And? Did you ask her about Rossi?'

'Yes. She said it was all predictable: he talked at great length and with false humility about his career and his success. But she did say he was so bad at disguising his arrogance that she let him talk more than she ordinarily would with one of these types, just to see how far he'd go.'

'And how far was that?'

'He talked – Duca said, with self-effacing humility – about the possibility of a transfer to the Ministry in Rome.'

Brunetti considered the implications of this and suggested, 'And with the equal possibility of an enormous increase in salary?'

'She said he only implied that. She remembered he said something about wanting to be of service to the future of the children of Italy.' She waited for a few moments, then added, 'She also said that, from what she knows of local politics, he has about as much chance of going to Rome as the Mayor does of being re- elected.'

After a long pause, Brunetti said, 'Yes.'

'Excuse me?'

'Greed. Even at eighty-three.'

'Yes’ she answered. 'How sad.'

Bocchese, who was usually not to be seen in the Questura outside of his own office, appeared at the door. 'I

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