Following the sudden death of his best friend, the narrator of The executor is called to Turin to resolve the will and literary estate of this famous writer and professor. It is a considerable undertaking, as Rudolf had amassed not only a rather extensive collection of house pets (a goose, several ducks, tortoises, and a peacock - to say nothing of Caesar, the old dog), but also a voluminous library of books and research materials. Somewhere under this mountain of papers lies Rudolf's magnum opus, a work so great that the writer maintained it would be the "world's last novel." But the narrator has other obstacles to overcome: The trio of women Rudolf left behind - the widow, the secretary, and the lover - are all looking for something the narrator isn't sure he can give. If he had known what awaited him in Turin, would he ever have gone?