Thursday, December 21, 2006


I have finished stage one of my Montalbano reading marathon,
The Voice of The Violin, and am about to start Excursion to Tindari.
Reading a detective series is a comforting and comfortable experience, it is nice to return to familiar characters, and learn a bit more about their lives. While the author has to be careful that his, or her, detective fiction does not become a pastiche or parody.
The series must continue to contain interesting plots, rather than just wallow in the weird behaviour of the characters. Fortunately Andrea Camilleri has not fallen into the Patricia Cornwell trap of having increasingly quirky characters without any plot development.
But perhaps Camilleri could even get away with that literary sin because of the humour, gastronomic delights, clever interplay, and inherent charm of Montalbano that abounds in the books.

In fact in The Voice of the Violin there is plenty of plot and action. The story begins with Montalbano finding the naked body of the beautiful Michela Licalzi, who has been suffocated, and left in the house she is renovating.
The Inspector and his team begin an investigation and there are several suspects in Michela's murder:

Maurizio Di Blasi, a shy besotted admirer, who has learning difficulties.
Dr Emanuele Licalzi, her elderly husband.
Guido Serraville, an antique dealer from Bologna, and Michela's lover.

and even perhaps her close friend Anna Tropeano, another beauty whose charms Montalbano appreciates, while it is apparent that the attraction is mutual.

This makes for an interesting sub-plot of will they or won't they, get involved throughout the novel.

Salvo has other problems as his long distance relationship with Livia is facing a traumatic incident. On top of this he also has major difficulties with the new Commssioner Bonetti-Alderighi, and the new chief of the crime laboratory Dr Arqua.

At one point Bonetti-Alderighi actually takes the investigation away from Montalbano and puts the Montelusa flying squad captain Ernesto Panzacchi in charge, with predictably disastrous results.

Once again I really enjoyed this book and hope the others in the series are as good, and I can't wait to find out how Salvo and Livia sort out their problems.
Outside the Sicilian city of Agrigento, Camilleri's model for the city of Montelusa, stands the Greek Temple of Concord [440BC], by far the best preservedof the ruins........against the protests of conservationists, historians, and people of good sense, a large unsightly hotel was built directly behind the archaelogical site....[from the notes by Stephen Sartarelli]
A visit to the city of Exeter would show that it is not only in "corrupt" Sicily that such planning crimes are committed. Within yards of a beautiful medieval cathedral the city is building a monstrous shopping mall that seems to have been designed by Attila the Hun, although that may be unkind to that barbarian.


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