|Italian author Andrea Camilleri is well-known in his native country
for a series of mysteries featuring a listless and at times dejected but
rather urban Sicilian Inspector of Police Salvo Montalbano. The Shape of
Water is the first of his adventures that have been translated into
|A local politician has been found by two garbage collectors locked
in his BMW in the rather incongruous position. Not only was he found in
the local neighbourhood colloquially known as "the Pasture"
which is normally frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers but he was
also found with his pants down. Despite all the evidence to the
contrary, the coroner rules that he died of natural causes. However,
Montalbano refuses to let the matter die and continues to dig. It is
only when there is another murder that matters begin to fall into place.
|In The Terra-Cotta Dog Montalbano finds himself accepting
an invitation from his former school mate (now a small-time drugs dealer
and brothel owner) Gege Gulotta to a meeting with Mafiosi Gaetano "Tano
The Greek" Bennici. Surprisingly, Bennici wants Montalbano to
arrest him so that he can undergo an operation in hospital without
losing face amongst his peers. However, his enemies still manage to find
a way of killing him. A supposedly bungled raid on a supermarket also
comes to the attention of Montalbano and soon the two cases are
|In both cases Montalbano finds himself encountering a number of
weird and tragic characters from an elderly schoolteacher who appears to
be driven round the bend by his eighty year old wife's cheating in The
Shape of Water to his demanding mistress Livia in The Terra-Cotta
Dog as well as having to fend of the attentions of his attractive
deputy, who uses every opportunity possible to try and seduce him.
Montalbano's pokerfaced drollery and piercing comments, coupled with the
sly comedy at the expense of his fellow policemen make this an extremely
|Subtle and sardonic, Montalbano is a detective who is not above
bending the law to suit the situation, but what he would like more than
anything else is to finish the Barcelona detective novel.
|While this series for some may not be seen as your typical crime
novel, they are certainly engrossing. Camilleri has managed to infuse in
both novels an extreme sense of place. The sights, sounds and people of
contemporary Sicily are brought to the attention of the reader in a
number of different ways, which enhance the story, no end. An elegant
translation, which is well worth reading.