Andrea Camilleri's novels starring Inspector Montalbano have become an international sensation in eight languages. This funny and fast-paced Sicilian thriller will be a delicious discovery for mystery aficionados and fiction lovers alike.
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
Solve another mystery with Inspector Montalbano.
©1994 Sellerio editore via Siracusa 50 Palermo; translation copyright ©2002 Stephen Sartarelli; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"[This] savagely funny police procedural prove[s] that sardonic laughter is a sound that translates ever so smoothly into English." (New York Times Book Review)
"Subtle, sardonic, and molto simpatico: Montalbano is the Latin re-creation of Philip Marlowe, working in a place that manages to be both more and less civilized than Chandler's Los Angeles." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Hailing from the land of Umberto Eco and La Cosa Nostra, Montalbano can discuss a pointy-headed book like Western Attitudes Towards Death as unflinchingly as he can pore over crime-scene snuff photos. He throws together an extemporaneous lunch...as gracefully as he dodges advances from attractive women." (Los Angeles Times)
I backtracked to this one because I started with Terra Cotta Dog and loved it so utterly that I had to know Montalbano from the beginning. This first one is definitely a delight, but Terracotta is much better, much funnier. Still, I'm glad I came back to the start. Buyers: Know that it only gets better. My only complaint about this one is that it's SO SHORT! Barely an evening by the fire. That can be a mercy when you're reading someone awful, but sad when it's as good as this one.
AUDIO: The reader is an excellent choice. He's not totally perfect, but close enough. He has a good sense of, and is a good fit for, this wonderful character.
This is the first of the Inspector Montalbano novels and it is a good place to start. It is an excellent book which is more character than plot-driven, and although the mystery of the second novel (the Terra-Cotta Dog) is better, I'd still suggest starting with this book for general character introductions. Oddly, an earlier reviewer commented that the characters were flimsy and I cannot disagree more. Montalbano is not a hard-boiled American style detective, so perhaps if you are expecting Sam Spade you'll be disappointed. But Montalbano is a strong character, unique, worthy of a Dexter's Morse or Allingham's Campion, and I would recommend him to anyone who likes an excellent mystery with a non-American flavor for a change.
Inspector Montalbano is very particular about food, but it is part of who the man is, and unless you are starving and can't find something to eat, these parts of the stories are excellent atmosphere and are NOT repetitive, as I think he rarely eats the same thing twice, and may inspire you to try some new things. He has other quirks as well, but he develops and grows in the four that I have read and listened to so far. Once you get a quarter into this first story, the Inspector's character will grab you and although mystery is intriguing, it will be the personality of Inspector Montalbano and the aura of small-town Sicily which I think you will find the most interesting. I can only guess, listening to the English version, that the translation of Andrea Camilleri's work is close to the original, but other than feeling like you are in Sicily when you listen to this, you won't notice that it wasn't originally written in English. The reader, Grover Gardner, is also excellent and he does the other Camilleri books that Audible has.
As of this writing, Audible has the first four books in this series, but not the fifth, The Excursion To Tindari (2005), although they do have the sixth one.
I recently listened to another in this series and loved it and now want them all!
The Inspector is wonderful, not just your average by the book detective novel, gritty, funny, and in step with today.
His ability to bring the characters to life, the different dialects he uses are great.
Great entertaining film, not just your average detective story.
I've been really wanting to read the Camilleri novels, since I've heard so many great things about them.
Unfortunately, this was a rather poor translation; on several occasions I was jolted out of the book by a word or phrase that just didn't work or was wrong. For example, a Sicilian word was translated as dawdling, and the translator explained that in Sicilian it meant to do nothing. So the character "dawdles" doing this and doing that about the house. First, a good translation never has to break the 'third wall' that way. Second, the English word is puttering or pottering, and if he had used that, no explanation would have been needed.
Secondly, the reader was rather stiff and rushed, and the characterizations were poor. The reader's style really didn't suit a book written partly in Sicilian dialect and set in a languid, relaxed place.
Overall, I was disappointed, especially since I could see the potential underneath these two problems.
I enjoyed watching the series on PBS so was delighted to see the books in Audible. I really like the Inspector and the way the story unfolds. It is not a fast paced, edge of your seat kind of story, but a good, well developed story that lets you get to know the characters involved. Can't wait for more about Salvo.
I was mostly interested in this series because I'd recently been to Sicily. On the plus side, the author gives details about some Sicilian dishes that I'd be interested to make. On the down side, the characters are pretty flimsy and the cliches fly like bullets.
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