Monday, April 12, 2010

FEATURE: Detectives Around the World

Welcome to my edition of Detectives Around the World, hosted by Jen's Book Thoughts. Mystery-loving bloggers from around the world are highlighting detectives from settings around the world. I am taking you on a little tour of Sicily, Italy, with Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Today I will have a book review, and on Thursday, I'll have a blog post highlighting Sicily.

The Paper Moon, by Andrea Camilleri, 264 pages
translated by Stephen Sartarelli

This is the ninth in the series. There have been sixteen written in Italian, with fourteen translated into English, three of which will be released in 2010. When reading a Montalbano mystery, you should expect humor, food, politics, slapstick, and a compelling mystery. And then a desire will overtake you to travel to Sicily and have a great Mediterranean meal.

Inspector Montalbano is starting to feel his age, and beginning to wonder about himself, making him more moody than usual. He is called to investigate the point-blank shooting in the face of victim left with his pants down. Two women suspects emerge, leaving Salvo to have meetings and meals with both of them. As he delves further into the case, drugs and gambling and kickbacks complicate things. His investigative methods are generally unorthodox, and often interrupted by meetings with his hated superiors, but he is left to himself a little more this time, much to his relief.

Mimi, Catarella, and Fazio, policemen on his team, are helping to investigate, but in smaller roles, highlighting Salvo's personal issues in this novel as he is more in his head than usual. Livia, Salvo's girlfriend, also never makes a visit to Vigata, but his housekeeper has left him a few great meals, and an old flame, Ingrid, has sent him some salmon and herring from Sweden. My biggest complaint about Montalbano is his relationship with women, as he is not what I would consider loyal to Livia, but he has a code he seems to live by in his head.

The translator, Sartarelli, really makes this series. He provides notes at the back to help provide a context to many of the comments in the book, from Sicilian phrases, to literary allusions, to the political context from Italian history. He also keeps the comedy, the quick comments, and the humorous interactions, the hallmarks of this series.

Inspector Montalbano Series Titles (from Wikipedia)

  1. The Shape of Water - 2002 (La forma dell’acqua - 1994)
  2. The Terracotta Dog - 2002 (Il cane di terracotta - 1996)
  3. The Snack Thief - 2003 (Il ladro di merendine - 1996)
  4. The Voice of the Violin - 2003 (La voce del violino - 1997)
  5. Excursion to Tindari - 2005 (La gita a Tindari - 2000)
  6. The Scent of the Night - 2005 (L’odore della notte - 2001)
  7. Rounding the Mark - 2006 (Il giro di boa - 2003)
  8. The Patience of the Spider - 2007 (La pazienza del ragno - 2004)
  9. The Paper Moon - 2008 (La Luna di Carta - 2005)
  10. August Heat - 2009 (La Vampa d'Agosto - 2006)
  11. The Sphinx's Wings - 2009 (Le Ali della Sfinge - 2006)
  12. The Sand Path - 2010 (La pista di Sabbia - 2007)
  13. The Potter's Field - 2010 (Il campo del vasaio - 2008)
  14. The Age of Doubt - 2010 (L'età del dubbio - 2008)
  15. (Le prime indagini - 2009)
  16. (La danza del gabbiano - 2009)