Four men--a mysterious lampoonist, a soldier-parricide, a baron who learned his sectarianism north of the Alps, and a student named Narcissus--are accused of sedition and arrested by the pre-Risorgimento Bourbon kingdom of Southern Italy. The men will die if they do not reveal the name of their anonymous mastermind, to whom they refer as ``God the Father.'' As they await death, they imitate The Decameron by sharing with one another tales that are allegedly autobiographical. Governor DeRitis, their tormentor now disguised as an apprehended brigand, arranges to occupy the same cell and confronts the ``lies of the night'' evident in their respective narratives. But he never suspects that the biggest lie may be the very existence of the mastermind whose identity he so obsessively pursues. Bufalino, who is Sicilian, won the 1988 Strega Prize for this spellbinding tale of mystery and psychological observation.-- Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.