Born in Italy but brought up in Africa (at Addis Abeba, to be precise, where he worked as a policeman at the Italian embassy), Napoleone Di Carlo has returned to Europe and has chosen Switzerland as his new homeland. He lives in Geneva, where he runs a small hotel, the Hotel Astrid, situated in a quiet secluded district. Here, he would like to devote himself to his great passions (criminology and entomology), but his friend Dumas, a police officer in Geneva, begs him for assistance, and so Napoleone is periodically compelled to set his hobbies and his normal occupations aside and embark on complex and risky investigations ("poised between the thriller and the noir genres", as was trumpeted in the blaze of publicity with which the series was launched). It is here that he reveals his talent as an investigator and his strong points as a man of action. The most remarkable aspect of this unusual character created and written by Carlo Ambrosini is, however, his ability to enter into communication with some strange creatures (invisible to everybody except himself) that emanate from his mind and dwell in a dream-like surreal landscape governed by rules of its own, a weird and wonderful world situated "above the ponds, valleys, mountains, woods, clouds and seas, beyond the sun, the ether and the boundaries of the starry spheres". Napoleone has to contend with these three creatures - the nymph Lucrezia, the little man with the face of a fish, Scintillone, and the butler Caliendo - even in the most dramatic or tension-laden moments, a circumstance that gives rise to scenes intensely pervaded with humor and subtle irony.

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