Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Terra-Cotta Dog

The Terra-Cotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli (translator),

This is the second of the Inspector Salvo Montalbano mysteries, which are set in 1990s Sicily.

300 pages may strike us time-pressed readers as too long for a police procedural, but the plot twists and brisk action justify the length. Bringing to mind Josephine Tey's A Daughter of Time (in which a convalescing cop exonerates Richard III through research), Montalbano, recovering from being shot during a meeting with an informer, works on a 50-year-old murder case.

Montalbano is hard to like: arbitrary and secretive with subordinates, abrupt with friends, thoughtless with his mistress Livia, and monstrous toward Anna who foolishly adores him. Half a dozen characters tell him what a jerk he is, but he can't help his behavior.

The translator Stephen Sartarelli has provided an excellent notes section at the end that explains background of Berlusconi-era Italian politics and society and Sicilian culture and phrases.

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