Sunday, January 07, 2007


Last week in the UK a small child was savaged to death by a pit bull terrier, and by some accounts the owner had convictions for drug offences.

A writer in the Telegraph, I forget who, pointed it out as an example of the casual brutality and criminality of "our feral underclass".

In Andrea Camilleri's books we frequently read about the underclass, but it is the indifference and ruthless brutality of many of the "overclass" that is the crux of his stories. He certainly feels that Montalbano, Augello, Catarella and the rest of the team are in that middle ground trying to protect us the "silent majority".

In Excursion to Tindari Camilleri does not pull any punches, and it is the stark contrast between all the humour, and the heartless "real world" that makes this such a good novel.
Salvo Montalbano is investigating the murder of Nene Sanfillippo, a twenty year old "with too much money in his pockets, and who brought a different woman home every other night".
The Griffos a grumpy elderly couple have disappeared, while they were on an excursion to the shrine at Tindari, and because they lived in the same building as Nene Montalbano suspects some connection.
Meanwhile Don Balduccio Sinagra, the old style local Mafia don, is concerned about his grandson who is on the run from both the police and rival new style Mafia gangs.
Montalbano has to work out a scheme to prevent Mimi Augello leaving his team to live with his new fiance who works in Pavia, while also trying to work out who is the beautiful older lover of young Nene featured in some pornographic videotapes.
The cocktail is stirred and shaken with accounts of Montalbano's relationships with his superiors, his team, his lover Livia in Genoa, his friend Ingrid and most importantly his stomach.
When Salvo solves all the interlocking puzzles it comes as a minor shock to find out that beneath the glitz, caponata, seafood, and shine his world like ours is a very sad place.
Caponata- a zesty traditional southern-Italian dish often served as an appetizer or side dish, made up of sauteed aubergine, tomato, green pepper, garlic, onion, celery, black olives, vinegar, olive oil and anchovies.


Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One wants to avoid judging a piece of writing by a single phrase, but the savage brutality of "our feral underclass" strikes me as ignoring an awful lot of brutality elsewhere. Perhaps Camilleri has a more clear-eyed view of things than does the Telegraph's writer. Or perhaps he's merely less anxious than the Telegraph to generate what we in America laughably call "debate."

10:43 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter, I am afraid that the press [both popular and so called quality] in the UK live in a cocoon. When something happens that brings the real world home to them, they have a knee jerk reaction and the "debate" produces some ludicrous suggestion to solve the problem.
This then becomes government policy for a couple of days before they, and everybody else, realise it is totally unworkable.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You appear to have the British press confused with the American!
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

6:48 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Aren't they both owned by the same people?

11:56 AM  

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