Montalbano’s First Case by Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Gianluca Rizzo and Dominic Siracusa
Mondadori/Open Road Integrated Media, October 2013
Originally published as La prima indagine di Montalbano, 2004
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.
It feels strange to call a crime novel delightful given the subject matter, but Camilleri manages to balance out the violence of the crime Montalbano investigates with the humor and bits of life that make him human. I’ve only read the first novel in the series, but I’m already a fan of this series. In this novella, Montalbano is 35, apprenticed in the mountains and eager for a placement by the sea. Once he moves to Vigata, he investigates a thwarted shooting of a public official instead of an actual murder, and Montalbano displays plenty of skill in dealing with corrupt government officials as he pursues the case.
My English edition only contains one story unlike the three billed in the Italian edition. It appears that the other two stories in the Italian collection take place in Mascalippe, in the mountains of Sicily, before Montalbano is promoted to Inspector and moves to Vigata, on the Mediterranean. The novella feels like a Camilleri novel in miniature, which is a compliment, and it was nice to meet some of the characters when they are a great deal younger. Not all of the regulars appear in this story.