Vigata, 1890, Good Friday. In the town square, the "Mortorio", the Passion of Christ, is being enacted, with the upright, irreproachable manager of the local branch of the Trinacria bank, Antonio Patò, playing the part of Judas. The
enactment arrives at its climax with the hanging of Judas-Patò who, accompanied by the spectators’insults, falls out of sight through a special trapdoor. But at the end of the show, Patò seems to have disappeared. Neither his own clothes nor his costume are found in his dressing room. A few days later a phrase appears written on a wall in Vigata: "Murì Patò o s'ammucciò?” (Is Patò dead or hidden?). That’s
what everyone wants to know: the citizenry, Patò’s wife Elisabetta Mangiafico Patò and, most of all, His Excellency “Grande Ufficiale” Senator Artidoro Pecoraro, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior, as well as a very high-ranking uncle of the missing accountant. The Police branch of Vigàta, represented by Ernesto Bellavia, and the local station of the Royal Carabinieri, represented by Marshal Paolo Giummaro, are on the alert; it is necessary to cast light on the mystery. At first the two compete with and block each other in the investigations, but then end up becoming friends and accomplices. Various hypotheses are considered: Was there some irregularity in his running of the bank? A loss of memory caused by the fall through the trapdoor? A mafia plot? In the end the truth emerges, but it “burns” in the hands of the two investigators…..
Through the investigations, the interrogations, and a series of flashbacks that bring to life a kaleidoscope of characters, customs, and immoral behavior that are extremely topical, a surprising and unexpected picture of Sicily and all of Italy emerges.