Sunday, June 28, 2009

MONTALBANO NUMBER TEN: AUGUST HEAT



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."

5 Comments:

Blogger Maxine said...

I merely recommended you, Norman, your evident Camilleri expertise did the rest without any help from me. I am very grateful to you for introducing me to this author (and Sjowell/Wahloo, mentioned in your review.) My review of the book is in press at Euro Crime, so should be out soon. (Or may be already and I may have missed it, I am a bit behind on my online reading).
I very much enjoyed reading your review - although I would say this is not one of Camilleri's very best (not as good as the previous, Paper Moon, in my view), it slid down a treat and it is always such a delight to read this author. (Delight tinged with sadness for the ruination of that most beautiful country by some of its less than lovely politicians and other inhabitants.)

11:14 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine. The only problem with the Montalbanos is that I enjoy reading them so much that I finished this one in two sessions. I now have to wait for the next one; those lucky people who have not found this author yet and have ten to read.
I don't try and rate them any more but this one I thought was almost up there with some of his best. I love Camilleri's techniques such as Montalbano writing letters to himself and Montalbano's wonderful gross insubordination. When is the next one coming out!

11:50 AM  
Anonymous dnaattorney said...

I can't wait to read this book. I love detective books!

8:00 AM  
Blogger Bernadette in Australia said...

Do you happen to have the direct URL link for your Appreciating Camilleri piece Norman? both your links above go directly to the Picador home page and the site is totally hopeless - no searching capacity at all. I spent a while meandering around it but gave up in frustration. I've just read August Heat and it's my first Camilleri so I was keen to read your article.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Bernadette they seem to have altered the URL since I posted this but hopefully http://bit.ly/aNd9JP will get you there.

2:45 PM  

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