What if morning brought something other than gold?
Milan. The body of a man is found in his apartment. He is lying on the floor in an unusual position, with both his hands on his heart, as if feeling a heartbeat that is no longer there.
No blood, no cuts. No gunshot wounds. Strangulation marks on his throat and dark bruises on his wrists. A gold coloured necktie is perfectly knotted around the victim’s neck.
The case is assigned to Inspector David Walker, Milan Police Homicide Squad. At his side, assisting with the investigations is his friend, medical examiner Umberto Visconti.
The only lead they have to pursue in this case seems to be the murder weapon: a gold necktie.
Walker then contacts the Head Office of the necktie’s manufacturer – a well-known brand ¬– hoping to trace its customers.
The move leads to a dead end.
Walker seeks advice from Arturo Mosetti – an enthusiastic thinker with a passion for riddles – who has in the past assisted him in solving complex cases.
Before the medical examiner has submitted his autopsy report, a second body is found in the same condition: lying in a supine position, with both his hands on his heart, dark bruises on his wrists and that unusual gold necktie around his neck.
In the second victim’s mouth: something odd- a round gold tag with rough, jagged edges. With symbols engraved on its face.
The investigators return to the scene of the first murder and find another gold tag. It’s identical. Only with different symbols. These symbols are a clue left by the killer, but Walker is unable to decipher the unusual code.
Only one thing is clear: both murders are the work of the same person.
The mystery deepens when it is discovered that the tags are actually made of gold.
Walker instructs his team to contact all the Jewellers and Goldsmiths of the city. Surely someone among them must know where these tags came from.
Other officers from Walker’s team begin investigating possible suspects. Of particular interest, is a Mr. Merli, whose fingerprints are found at the scene of the first murder. Although Merli is in a relationship with the first victim’s wife and his alibi seems to hold up, Walker keeps him under strict surveillance.
The jewellers and goldsmiths soon start providing their information regarding the tags: they are poorly handmade, an amateurish job. None of them has ever seen them for sale.
Right when the investigations appear to have stalled, a third victim is found, with the same characteristics as the previous two. The prime suspect is, once again, Merli who, a week before, had threatened to kill the victim during a violent argument with him. The investigators are on his back, waiting for him to make a wrong move.
He is under surveillance night and day, but apart from a gambling habit and his marital infidelity, nothing stands out about him. And when a new body is found, he is in the clear. Merli couldn’t have committed this murder: two plain-clothes agents had kept him under surveillance all night. He hadn’t left the house, so he couldn’t be the killer. Unless, of course, he had an accomplice. This is the thought that torments Inspector Walker: perhaps his lover – the first victim’s wife – had helped him commit the last murder. And with the discovery of yet another body, Merli is absolutely ruled out as a suspect.
Then something occurs that will unravel David Walker’s life and investigation. Umberto Visconti calls him, asking for help. His life is in danger. The call suddenly drops out . The inspector races to his friend and finds the medical examiner dead. The room is in disarray; the victim’s body is covered in blood. The gold necktie and the tag in the victim’s mouth are a clear indication this murder is the work of the same person: the Necktie Killer, as dubbed by the media. Back to square one. Five victims and no real leads to follow.
For Inspector Walker, his friend’s death has now added a personal aspect to the case.
While awaiting the results of Umberto Visconti’s autopsy, disconcerting news reaches the Police HQ: Umberto’s body has disappeared.
Walker is convinced the killer must have made a crucial mistake, something that could have lead to his capture. He may have left traces on Visconti’s body that could have lead to him. Making the disappearance of the body necessary. The search continues, to no avail.
The killer is still on the loose. Walker believes the solution can be found in Visconti’s murder.
There are too many differences – or contradictions, as his friend Mosetti referred to them – between this murder and the others.
Umberto was the only victim to be found in a pool of a blood.
The only one to be found in a ransacked hotel room rather than in his apartment.
And the only one whose body disappeared after his death.