Monday, July 23, 2007

Inspector Montalbano

I was tickled to death to find that the latest installment of Andrea Camilleri's detective series had finally arrived at the library (not quite like getting my hands on the final Harry Potter book, but darn close). Camilleri's protagonist is Inspector Montalbano of the Commissariato di Pubblico Sicurezza (Commissariat of Public Safety), stationed in Vigata, Sicily. He has to be one of my favorite detectives of all time. He is irascible and abrupt, but this is understandable in light of the politics, bureacracy, and incompetent superiors he deals with. In this seventh book, The Patience of the Spider, Montalbano is recovering from a gunshot wound he received in Rounding the Mark. His relationship with his girlfriend is as rocky as ever, and he is beginning to feel his age. Author Camilleri does a wonderful job of illustrating the way in which business gets done in Sicily, with lots of local color about politics and food. The translator - Stephen Sartarelli - does an equally good job in preserving the Italian tone and pace in his translation, and the notes he provides in the back of the book are indispensable for truly understanding the story. He not only describes particular dishes or idioms, he also helps the reader understand Italian politics and Sicilian custom. I love this series, and I devour the books in one sitting. Highly recommended.

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