Monday, 11 July 2011

Andrea Camilleri: The Montalbano Mysteries

I love crime fiction and have become addicted to the Italian detective Salvo Montalbano, created by the Italian author Andrea Camilleri.  The novels are set in Sicily and you can feel the heat radiating up from the arid landscape, and smell the sea - just right for someone feeling nostalgic about Italy.
At first glance the central character isn't particularly endearing - he's a complete bastard to work for, tetchy, jealous, egotistical, but one hundred per cent straight in a landscape where most people can be bought.  That's why his dedicated team stay with him.   Though why his long distance girl friend puts up with him is more than I can fathom.  He is totally commitment phobic and treats her even worse than his police officers.  But then, as I've observed over there,  Italian women seem to expect very little of their men.

What is good about the novels is the quality of their plots. The complex structure of the rival police forces in Italy allows for almost unlimited complication, and then there's the existence of the Mafia.   There's no lack of killing in Sicily and even the most extreme violence seems credible in that setting.

I've read the first 5 novels and so far each one of them has held my attention from beginning to end and I'm starting to develop a soft spot for the irritable Sicilian.  It's partly the food - he's addicted to good cooking - sea bream grilled with garlic and lemon, home made pasta with a delicate sauce made from octopus,  aubergines grilled with parmesan .......    I'm salivating just thinking about it.   The novels are  a combination of Morse and Masterchef and - judging by the number Camilleri's sold - it's a winning formula.

1 comment:

  1. last time I was reading the biography of Andrea Camilleri and I was reading the part of his Italian background and I think she portrayed some of that on these mysteries