Monday, July 16, 2007

THE EMOTIONAL FRAGILITY OF A MIDDLE AGED DETECTIVE


In a long running, and therefore successful, crime fiction series it is very difficult to keep up the freshness and vitality of the first few books. I have mentioned previously authors who have run out of plots and decided to rely on merely character to keep the series going well beyond the sell buy date.


Of course this does not apply in the case of Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano stories set in Vigata, Sicily. While The Patience of The Spider, the 8th book to be translated into English, may not have one of the stongest plots in the series, it is full of Montalbano and as such cannot fail to interest and charm. Once again Stephen Sartarelli has been able to translate the quirkiness of the characters into believable and readable English.

I am now so immersed in the foibles of Montalbano that I am not as interested in the investigation as with his interactions with his friends, colleagues and superiors. Even the wounded and thoughtful Montalbano of this book is a spikey character who has little patience with bland authority.
The question had been asked by a young guy an up-and-coming assistant inspector, well-dressed, quick-tongued, and well-toned.....He looked like the social-climbing business type. One saw so many of his ilk nowdays. A rapidly proliferating race of assholes.


I like his subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, contempt for his superiors, his wit, his craftiness, his concern for Catarella, his friendship with colleagues, and his sense of justice. They make him what USA Today called an "honest man on Sicily's mean streets".

Even his faults such as his constant bickering with Livia, and his jealousy of Mimi Augello add a realism to his character with which this ageing male crime fiction reader can identify. One reason I will certainly carry on reading the series is to see if Salvo and Livia can survive the perils of a long distance relationship.


Nec tecum nec sine te......Neither with you nor without you


Montalbano is recuperating from his gunshot wound, and Livia has come from Genoa to look after him. But when pretty Susanna Mistretta is kidnapped he is asked to assist Inspector Filippo Minutolu of the Montelusa police with the case.

Why have the kidnappers asked for 6 billion lire, in the age of the euro, and when everyone knows the family have limited means?

Why are the kidnappers keeping the local Tv stations informed about the situation?

How did the family lose their money?


The intuitive Montalbano, in between some fine meals, carries out his own offbeat investigation and with the usual assistance of Catarella's contacts, and Nicolo Zito his friend at the Free Channel private television station manages to unwind a spiders web of intrigue.


"Normally a kidnapper has everything to gain from silence. These guys, however are doing everything under the sun to make noise."


coniglio all'agrodolce-sweet and sour rabbit


What can I get for you, Inspector?"
"Everything."
They laughed.Seafood antipasto, fish soup, boiled octopusdressed with olive oiland lemon, four mullets (two fried, two grilled), and two little glasses, filled to the brim, of a tangerine liquer with an explosive alcohol level........"
I can see your in good form again."

1 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

I'll second most of what you say about The Patience of the Spider. The plot works well for, what, maybe the first eighty percent of the novel. And, though we may have discussed this elsewhere already, Montalbano has a touching vulnerability here that he did not have in the earlier novels.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

1:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home