Archive for June 28, 2009


While Devon basks in a summer mini heat wave I read August Heat the latest of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteries to be translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli.

I would not go as far as saying I was a Montalbano maven but I can’t get enough of Camilleri’s brilliant books.
You can read my article Appreciating Camilleri on the Picador Blog. [Picador were kind enough to provide August Heat, and the Camilleri article was written through the good offices of Maxine, Lady Petrona]

In a blistering Sicilian summer Montalbano manages to book a last minute holiday house for his girlfriend Livia’s best friend Laura, her husband Guido and their problem child three year old Bruno. A series of mishaps occur which culminate in Bruno going missing, but Montalbano finds that he has fallen into a secret apartment built underneath the house and the child is rescued.
But this is not the end of Montalbano’s problems there is a trunk in the apartment and in it he finds the body of a beautiful young woman wrapped in plastic.
Montalbano, with the assistance of the smart cop Fazio, and the less smart but devoted Catarella begin to investigate a complex case that involves the suspicious death of an Arab labourer, a mysterious disappearance and the temptation of a beautiful young woman.

In August Heat, the tenth of the Montalbano books to be published in English, Andrea Camilleri gives us another superb portion of all the charming idiosyncrasies that make this series so enjoyable. The plot may not be the strongest but the Montalbano books have never been about plot, but all about the detective’s relationships with his team, his sycophantic superiors, his stomach, his housekeeper, Livia and the various other women who drift in and out of his world.

In this episode we get once again the contrast between the amusing humour and the horrific crime, but the writing is getting sharper as Montalbano ages.
This is one of the best books in the series but it has a sad undertone as questions are asked as Montalbano struggles to cope with the heat and his emotions.
Is he losing his judgement? Has he completely lost what little respect he had for the law? Has he become just another sad middle aged lonely man?

This is a brilliant short novel containing brief tributes to both Conan Doyle, and Sjowall and Wahloo, as well as numerous typical Camilleri gems.
I can highly recommend it for a pleasant summer read.

Spitaleri had come in a black Ferrari. Which increased the inspector’s dislike for the developer. Having a Ferrari in a small town was like keeping a lion in your apartment’s bathroom.

And at Enzo’s Trattoria:

“How about a few big platters of antipasto di mare with shrimps, prawns, baby octopus, anchovies, sardines, mussels and clams?”
“Sounds good. And for second course?”

“Mullet in onions: served cold a delight.”