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Venice, 1769. The City of Masks is awash with rumour. A strange man haunts the nearby island of Torcello, a skeleton strapped to his back. A wolf wearing a priest's cassock is spotted running through the fields. A mysterious courtesan bears signs of a most unusual form of stigmata.
Michele Archenti, former priest and devil's advocate, and current publisher of a scandalous collection of erotic poetry, becomes reluctantly embroiled in political intrigue. Called upon to defend the skeleton-bearer-his friend Rodolfo -against charges of heresy, Archenti must navigate the murky political waters as well as the less-frequented canals of Venice, and outsmart the ambitious new Inquisitor from Rome who vows not only to prosecute the heretic, but to see him burn. In the heady, uninhibited days of Carnival, the signs are ripe: the citizens of Venice prepare for the Second Coming of Christ.