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I backtracked to this one because I started with Terra Cotta Dog and loved it so utterly that I had to know Montalbano from the beginning. This first one is definitely a delight, but Terracotta is much better, much funnier. Still, I'm glad I came back to the start. Buyers: Know that it only gets better. My only complaint about this one is that it's SO SHORT! Barely an evening by the fire. That can be a mercy when you're reading someone awful, but sad when it's as good as this one.
AUDIO: The reader is an excellent choice. He's not totally perfect, but close enough. He has a good sense of, and is a good fit for, this wonderful character.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
This is the first of the Inspector Montalbano novels and it is a good place to start. It is an excellent book which is more character than plot-driven, and although the mystery of the second novel (the Terra-Cotta Dog) is better, I'd still suggest starting with this book for general character introductions. Oddly, an earlier reviewer commented that the characters were flimsy and I cannot disagree more. Montalbano is not a hard-boiled American style detective, so perhaps if you are expecting Sam Spade you'll be disappointed. But Montalbano is a strong character, unique, worthy of a Dexter's Morse or Allingham's Campion, and I would recommend him to anyone who likes an excellent mystery with a non-American flavor for a change.
Inspector Montalbano is very particular about food, but it is part of who the man is, and unless you are starving and can't find something to eat, these parts of the stories are excellent atmosphere and are NOT repetitive, as I think he rarely eats the same thing twice, and may inspire you to try some new things. He has other quirks as well, but he develops and grows in the four that I have read and listened to so far. Once you get a quarter into this first story, the Inspector's character will grab you and although mystery is intriguing, it will be the personality of Inspector Montalbano and the aura of small-town Sicily which I think you will find the most interesting. I can only guess, listening to the English version, that the translation of Andrea Camilleri's work is close to the original, but other than feeling like you are in Sicily when you listen to this, you won't notice that it wasn't originally written in English. The reader, Grover Gardner, is also excellent and he does the other Camilleri books that Audible has.
As of this writing, Audible has the first four books in this series, but not the fifth, The Excursion To Tindari (2005), although they do have the sixth one.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful