For years one of my favourite traditions when going back to Italy to see the family was buying a book in the ‘Inspector Montalbano’ series. In Italy they’re published in a gorgeous edition, with blue covers and fabulous creamy paper. They’re small edition, easily held in one hand, absolutely perfect to slip in your pocket, or a handbag.
These are my latest reads, I’m sure I’ve missed a few through the years, I’ll needs to check.
The first one came out in 1994, and although I’ve been reading them in Italian you can also find them in English, (here, are the titles in chronological order). I would recommend reading them in the right order so you can get to know all the recurring characters… I promise you they’ll become friends! In the original language they’re written in ‘Sicilian’, which is not always easy for me but very colourful and endearing… I heard that the translation is brilliant and there are notes at the end of the books to explain certain essential traditions and quirks…. I’d be interested to hear what you think?
Salvo Montalbano is an inspector of police, in the imaginary town (but not less real) of Vigata, in Sicily. He’s approaching retirement, he is honest and stubborn and hates talking while eating. He loves food and the description of his legendary meal prepared by his housekeeper will make you mouth water. He’s a ferocious social critic of the Italian and Sicilian condition. He navigate with skills the political waters, the contradictions between North and South ways of thinking and doings and all this with the support of the most extraordinary sets of characters. I grew up in a police environment and ‘nothing’ is exaggerated. Nothing. It makes me chuckle all the time.
If you like clever crime stories without blood dripping down the pages onto your sheets, if you’re interested in contemporary social issues subtly intertwined in the story, if you like well drawn up characters and you like Italy… then these books are for you.
Andrea Camilleri, the author, died a couple of weeks ago and I’m really sad the adventures of Montalbano will now stop. I’ll miss him.