In February 1893 a man travelling back to Palermo in a slow train is stabbed to death and his body thrown out beside the track. The victim is the only incorruptible director of the Bank of Sicily. There are witnesses, but, however hard the police try to bring the murderers to justice, the culprits keep slipping through their fingers: when the Mafia are cleaning house, there never are witnesses. Raffaele Palizzolo, an influential Member of Parliament for Palermo known as "The Swan," is a suspect. He is also widely feared, and keeps the bereaved Filicetta more or less in slavery before turning her over to his associates. Eventually he is put on trial. The incident happened a hundred years ago, but this story of a "man of honour," who with the clearest conscience set out to dispose of all who stood between him and his ambitions, is as relevant as ever. The impact of Sebastiano Vassalli's story is the greater for being the work of a North Italian, whose understated passion has directed a piercing light on an unfinished, brutal chapter of Italy's history.