The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

Translated by Stephen Sartarelli

Viking Penguin, 2002

Originally published as La forma dell’acqua by Sellerio editore, 1994

Book 1 in the Inspector Montalbano series

Source:  library

So I picked up the first Inspector Montalbano book after hearing so many good things about the television version of his books (it hasn’t aired in the U.S. yet).  I wasn’t sure what to expect except a focus on corrupt government officials, and the book definitely covered that.  The cover didn’t really give me an accurate feel for the novel.  It’s billed as “a novel about wine, food and homicide in a small town in Sicily.”  There’s a bit of wine and food in this novel, but not lots.  It doesn’t really feel like a travel-to-Sicily type of novel to me, but that’s not to put down the setting of the novel.

It’s a police procedural in a small town in Sicily, a town where crime gangs are feuding and killing each other, a town where the army appears to restore law and order, and a town with plenty of political intrigue.  The mystery revolves around the death of the death of a political operative named Luparello, who is found dead in his car in the Pasture, an area of town known for prostitution.  Montalbano works on the case for a limited period of time though the coroner rules the death of natural causes.  His investigation leads him in several scandalous directions. 

The mystery revolving around a political sex scandal was not the most interesting aspect of the book for me.  The character of Montalbano was more interesting.  His friend the police commissioner calls him, “a friend whom I know to possess an intelligence, an acumen, and, most important, a courtesy in human relations quite rare nowadays.” He does seem pretty respectful of everyone he interviews during the course of the investigation.  The ending does point out, however, that he may not be the perfect inspector, which is an interesting take that I’m sure fuels subsequent novels in this series.  I think he’s more into justice than the letter of the law.

10 thoughts on “The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

  1. Rebecca – Thanks for reminding me of this terrific novel. I agree with you completely that in this series, the characters move it along and keep it fresh. There’s humour, too, and some interesting social/political commentary. I’ve got a real soft spot for the series, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

    • Sarah, I’m willing to try another book or two because I’ve heard good things about others in the series and because they’re relatively short. I’m not in the mood for another one right now, but I wish I knew what I’m in the mood to read. I keep on starting and putting aside books after 20 pages lately.

  2. I like the sound of this one, Rebecca, as described by you here. I am quite a fan of Donna Leon, who is also, I think, more into justice than into the letter of the law, though in her case, one might say she is more into the lack of justice than into the solving of crimes — i.e. crimes may be solved but that by no means guarantees justice!

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