With Peter at Detectives beyond Borders discussing "fictional detectives of a certain age", and a young lady informing me that Mark Harmon of NCIS** can only be appreciated by women over 32, I have realised with horror that my empathy with Andrea Camilleri is probably because of his age.
"middle-aged detectives with bad, sad or questionable marital histories and, in some cases, a tendency toward alcohol and self-pity" [from Detectivesbeyond borders]
Many male crime fiction readers can identify with such detectives, and many female readers can clearly recognise such characters among their ex, current about to become ex, or even permanent male companions.
I don't think Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano [or Guido Brunetti, or Guido Guerrieri for that matter] could be in anyway classified in this group. Perhaps that is why Camilleri is not as depressing as some English and Scandinavian crime fiction.
Montalbano is indeed not young, but he has a mature, if stormy, relationship with Livia. Montalbano flirts because he is an Italian, but so far in the series [The Scent of the Night] he has been entirely faithful to Livia, physically if not mentally.
Salvo's first love is even more important than his pleasure at reading the works of Simenon, Sciascia, Montalban, Faulkner and Pirandello. It is more important than his police work, or even Livia. More important than his solitude and his special thinking time, more important than even justice and law and order itself ; his first love is his stomach.
Therefore he only exhibits self pity on those rare occasions when his fridge is empty, and the Trattoria San Calogero is closed.
Andrea Camilleri because he is an octogenarian has a library of interesting quirky characters in his life experience, and in the little cameo appearances they make in the novels we can relate to our own varied lives. Age matters.
** NCIS... Naval Criminal Investigation Service: this series which is on several UK cable channels [Five, Five US, Hallmark, FX] is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. The witty repartee, clever characters [including David McCallum from the Man from Uncle] and interesting subject matter, make this one of the best US imports we have at the moment.
The Man From Uncle: For nearly four years (Sept. 22, 1964 to Jan. 15, 1968), fans enjoyed watching the adventures of agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), who represented the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.