Book Review: The Inspector Montalbano Series

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A look at the Inspector Montalbano Series. Reviewed by April Armstrong.

Italian author Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series is delightful.  The protagonist, a dedicated police inspector in a small Sicilian town, is a complex individual with a taste for fine food (and vast quantities of it) and an eye for women and art.  He usually manages to remain faithful to his long-distance lover, Livia, to whom he is devoted despite their relatively frequent spats.  Over the course of the series he and his team solve heinous crimes through a combination of scientific sleuthing and flashes of insight, literal or oneiric. Despite the grisly nature of the crimes, there is a great deal of humor, even whimsy, partly from Montalbano’s interactions with his crew and other characters, partly from his dealing with signs of his own aging.  The bumbling yet endearing Catarella, who answers the phone at the station, provides a good bit of comic relief.

The translations are seamlessly done by poet Stephen Sartarelli.  There is a helpful glossary at the end of each volume, with definitions of culinary terms and explanations of cultural and political allusions.  The colorful cover art has been consistently full of appealing verve.  Kudos to Penguin’s designer and illustrator team, Paul Buckley and Andy Bridge.  This is a series best read in order, as characters reappear, and there are references to past situations. The library does own the entire series, from The Shape of Water to The Potter’s Field.  A new title, The Age of Doubt, is slated to come out May 29.

Click here to see the order of the Inspector Montalbano series.

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