Saturday, February 26, 2011


This blog is now dormant and has moved with all the old posts and comments to Crime Scraps Review at:

Most readers will know by now that I am a Camilleri aficionado enjoying everything he writes. The plots may be uneven and sometimes both Salvo Montalbano and the reader may become confused by events, but the books are always fun to read.
They have four basic ingredients, Salvo Montalbano, great supporting characters, gorgeous food, and beautiful women, [or should that be beautiful food and gorgeous women].

In The Track of the Sand, the twelfth Montalbano book to be superbly translated by Stephen Sartarelli into English, the melancholic detective awakes from a strange dream and finds a dead horse on the seashore outside his house.

"Of a clandestine horse-racing circuit in Vigata."
"And you think this horse was killed as a consequence of something that happened in those circles?"
"What else could it be? All we gotta do now is wait for the consequences of this consequence, which there will surely be."

It turns out that the horse may be one that disappeared from the stables of Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily, and that it may belong to the stunningly beautiful blond Rachele Esterman.
Complications occur, Montalbano's house is ransacked, and he becomes even more melancholic reminiscing about his childhood, a night-fishing expedition with his uncle, and the taste of a lightly fried sole.

Montalbano also enjoys the company of Rachele, and along the way we discover not all the food in Sicily meets with his approval.

The waiter arrived, again with three plates. This time it was fried mullet.
The unmistakable stink of fish that had been dead for a week wafted into the terrified inspector's nostrils.

Montalbano and Rachele naturally avoid eating this, and few days later eat a antipasto that filled their table with goodies.

Shrimp, jumbo prawns, squid , smoked tuna. fried balls of nunnatu [tiny newborn fish], sea urchins, mussels, clams,............

The Track of the Sand is a fairly typical Montalbano book with a confusing plot, a large cast of characters, sparkling humour, Mafia, obnoxious superiors, culinary descriptions, and enigmatic women. These novels always exhibit the author's deep love of Sicily, and Sicilians.
I can highly recommend this light short read, that just happens to have a hero who enjoys reading Swedish crime fiction.

Its protagonist was a colleague of his, Inspector Martin Beck, whose manner of investigation he found very appealing. When he had finished the novel and turned out the light, it was four o'clock in the morning.


Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Thanks for the review and foretaste, Norman. Like you (indeed, thanks to you!) I am also a great fan of this series and am so much looking forward to reading this one.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine, I am trying to stick to lighter books at the moment to distract me from life.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

gorgeous food, and beautiful women, [or should that be beautiful food and gorgeous women]

This reminds me of the post I wrote about Camilleri and food which earned me a place in some Italian food directory :D

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Thanks for this excellent review! You're actually the reason I'm a fan of Camilleri as well :-). This one looks terrific, and I'm quite keen to read it.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, Camilleri's books can be just the thing, distracting and fun, and often hilarious.

I laughed very hard when I read "The Scent (or "Smell" in some books) of the Night," and at comments in other books with Montalbano.

Donna Leon's books are not the same, but the Venice life--tourism, food, and more--can be very distracting without being ponderous.

And I actually cracked several smiles reading Sjowall/Wahloo's "The Fire Engine that Disappeared," which wasn't as witty as Camilleri's works, but passed muster just the same.

I haven't yet tried L.C. Tyler's herring seller books, but they seem to be fun.

8:51 PM  

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