My Book Notes: The Overnight Kidnapper, 2014 (An Inspector Montalbano Mystery Book 23) by Andrea Camilleri (trans: Stephen Sartarelli)

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Mantle, 2019. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 540 KB. Print Length: 271 pages. ASIN: B07GWPTFCS. ISBN: 978-1-5098-4084-7. Originally published in Italian in 2015 as La giostra degli scambi by Sellerio Editore. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli in 2019.

original_400_600Opening Paragraph: At half past five that morning – give or take a few minutes – a fly that had long been stuck to the windowpane as though dead suddenly opened its wings, rubbed then together to clean them, then took flight and, a moment later, changed direction and landed on the bedside table. (Italian translation by Stephen Sartarelli)

Synopsis: After a hectic morning involving two rather irritating cases of mistaken identity, Inspector Montalbano finally arrives in his office ready find out what’s troubling Vigàta this week. What he discovers is unnerving. A woman on her way home from work has been held up at gunpoint, chloroformed and kidnapped, but then released just hours later – unharmed and with all her possessions – into the open countryside. Later that day, Montalbano hears from Enzo, the owner of his favourite restaurant, that his niece has recently been the victim of the exact same crime. Before long, a third instance of this baffling overnight kidnapping has been reported. As far as Montalbano can tell, there is no link between the attacker and the victims. So what exactly is this mystery assailant gaining from these fleeting kidnappings? And what can he do to stop them? Montalbano must use all his logic and intuition if he is to answer these pressing questions before the kidnapper finds his next victim . . .

My take: The day had not started off well. Montalbano mistook the most dangerous man, the one with the knife, for the weaker one. The carabinieri mistook Montalbano for a troublemaker. Adelina mistook an honest man for a thief. And, since troubles always come in fours, Montalbano was sure that early that same morning he killed the innocent fly, mistaking it for the guilty one. Once at the police station, Fazio has an interesting story to tell him. Late last night a man showed up to report that her daughter Manuela was kidnapped five days ago while returning back home. She was chloroformed and released within a few hours without further damages, and with all her belongings intact. The incident could have remained unnoticed had it not been for Enzo, the owner of Montalbano’s favourite trattoria, who that same day told Montalbano his niece Michela was the victim of a similar kidnapping. The two episodes have only one thing in common, both young ladies work at a bank. The following morning a fire destroys a large shop that sells televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices and the owner, a certain Marcello Di Carlo, is nowhere to be found. The fire seems to have started deliberately and the Mafia’s hand can’t be ruled out, but Montalbano is not fooled by appearances.

I’ve very much liked to see Camilleri once more in top form in this new instalment. The story has it all, an intriguing plot, an exciting mystery and Camilleri’s usual characters. It was quite fun to see how Montalbano manages to come out successfully from the compromising situations in which he finds himself involved in. All peppered with a very peculiar sense of humour, as can be see in the following passage:

‘It was clear he was destined for the sort of brilliant career common to so many of today’s executives: a rapid ascent (perhaps from selling his own mother to the highest bidder), arrival at the top, immediate crash of the stock value of the company, bank, or whatever it was, disappearance of said executive, and reappearance, one year later, of same executive in a position of even greater importance.’

A thoroughly enjoyable reading. Highly recommended.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Andrea Camilleri born 6 September 1925) was a playwright, scriptwriter, filmmaker and Italian novelist.  Originally from Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Camilleri began studies at the Faculty of Literature in 1944, without concluding them, meanwhile publishing poems and short stories. From 1948 to 1950 Camilleri studied stage and film direction at the Silvio D’Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts (Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica) and began to take on work as a director and screenwriter, directing especially plays by Pirandello and Beckett. With RAI, Camilleri worked on several TV productions, such as Inspector Maigret with Gino Cervi. In 1977 he returned to the Academy of Dramatic Arts, holding the chair of Film Direction and occupying it for 20 years. In 1978 Camilleri wrote his first novel Il Corso Delle Cose (“The Way Things Go”). This was followed by Un Filo di Fumo (“A Thread of Smoke”) in 1980. Neither of these works enjoyed any significant amount of popularity. In 1992, after a long pause of 12 years, Camilleri once more took up novel-writing. A new book, La Stagione della Caccia (“The Hunting Season”) turned out to be a best-seller. In 1994 Camilleri published the first in a long series of novels: La forma dell’Acqua (The Shape of Water) featured the character of Inspector Montalbano, a fractious Sicilian detective in the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town. The series is written in Italian but with a substantial sprinkling of Sicilian phrases and grammar. The name Montalbano is a homage to the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán; the similarities between Montalban’s Pepe Carvalho and Camilleri’s fictional detective are remarkable. Both writers make great play of their protagonists’ gastronomic preferences. This feature provides an interesting quirk which has become something of a fad among his readership even in mainland Italy. The TV adaptation of Montalbano’s adventures, starring Luca Zingaretti, further increased Camilleri’s popularity to such a point that in 2003 Camilleri’s home town, Porto Empedocle – on which Vigàta is modelled – took the extraordinary step of changing its official name to that of Porto Empedocle Vigàta, no doubt with an eye to capitalising on the tourism possibilities thrown up by the author’s work. On his website, Camilleri refers to the engaging and multi-faceted character of Montalbano as a “serial killer of characters,” meaning that he has developed a life of his own and demands great attention from his author, to the demise of other potential books and different personages. Camilleri added that he writes a Montalbano novel every so often just so that the character will be appeased and allow him to work on other stories. In 2012, Camilleri’s The Potter’s Field (translated by Stephen Sartarelli) was announced as the winner of the 2012 Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger. The announcement was made on 5 July 2012 at the awards ceremony held at One Birdcage Walk in London. On 17 June 2019, Camilleri suffered a heart attack. He was admitted to hospital in critical condition, and died on 17 July 2019. He’ll be sorely missed. (Source: Wikipedia)

To the best of my knowledge, the complete book series comprises so far the following titles in publication order: The Shape of Water, 2002 [La forma dell’acqua, Palermo, Sellerio, 1994]; The Terra-Cotta Dog, 2002 [Il cane di terracotta, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996]; The Snack Thief, 2003 [Il ladro di merendine, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996]; The Voice of the Violin, 2003 [La voce del violino, Palermo, Sellerio, 1997]; The Excursion To Tindari, 2005 [La gita a Tindari, Palermo, Sellerio, 2000]; The Smell of the Night aka The Scent of the Night, 2005 [L’odore della notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2001]; Rounding the Mark, 2006 [Il giro di boa, Palermo, Sellerio, 2003]; The Patience of the Spider, 2007 [La pazienza del ragno, Palermo, Sellerio, 2004]; The Paper Moon, 2008 [La luna di carta, Palermo, Sellerio, 2005]; August Heat, 2009 [La vampa d’agosto, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006]; The Wings of the Sphinx, 2009 [Le ali della sfinge, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006]; The Track of Sand, 2010 [La pista di sabbia, Palermo, Sellerio, 2007]; The Potter’s Field, 2011 [Il campo del vasaio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008]; The Age of Doubt, 2012 [L’età del dubbio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008]; The Dance of the Seagull, 2013 [La danza del gabbiano, Palermo, Sellerio, 2009]; The Treasure Hunt, 2013 [La caccia al tesoro, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010]; Angelica’s Smile, 2014 [Il sorriso di Angelica, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010]; Game of Mirrors, 2015 [Il gioco degli specchi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010]; A Beam of Light aka Blade of Light, 2015 [Una lama di luce, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012]; A Voice in the Night, 2016 [Una voce di notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012]; A Nest of Vipers, 2017 [Un covo di vipere, Palermo, Sellerio, 2013]; The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 [La piramide di fango, Palermo, Sellerio, 2014]; The Overnight Kidnapper, 2019 [La giostra degli scambi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2015]; The Other End of the Line (2019) [L’altro capo del filo, Palermo, Sellerio, 2016]; La rete di protezione, Palermo, Sellerio, 2017;Il metodo Catalanotti, Palermo, Sellerio, 2018; Il cuoco dell’Alcyon, Palermo, Sellerio, 2019; and Riccardino (inedito). The Other End of the Line (Inspector Montalbano mysteries #24), originally published in Italian in 2016 as L’altro capo del filo, will go on sale on 5 September 2019.

About the Translator: Stephen Sartarelli was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 5, 1954. He holds a BA in literature and languages from Antioch College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University. Sartarelli is the author of three books of poetry: The Open Vault (Spuyten Duyvil, 2001), The Runaway Woods (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000), and Grievances and Other Poems(Gnosis Press, 1989). He has translated over forty books of fiction and poetry from the Italian and French, including The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini(University of Chicago Press, 2014), which received the 2016 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize. About Sartarelli’s winning translation, judges Antonello Borra and Alessandro Carrera write: “Thanks to Stephen Sartarelli’s magnificent volume, flawless translation and sound scholarly apparatus, the English-speaking readership will now be aware that Pier Paolo Pasolini was as great as a poet, and possibly even greater, as he was a filmmaker. Not only does Sartarelli intelligently select and elegantly translate from Pasolini’s poetic opus, he also gives us a clear, informed introduction, a useful, concise set of notes, and an essential bibliography. This book is a must have for both scholars and lovers of poetry alike.” Sartarelli’s other honors include the International Dagger Award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain, the John Florio Prize from the British Society of Authors, and the Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize for Songbook: Selected Poems of Umberto Sabain 2001. He has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the ongoing translation of Horcynus Orca by Stefano D’Arrigo, originally published in 1975. Sartarelli currently lives in the Périgord region of South West France with his wife, the painter Sophie Hawkes. (Source:

Pan Macmillan publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Sellerio publicity page

Inspector Montalbano mysteries


El carrusel de las confusiones de Andrea Camilleri

Primer párrafo: A las cinco y media de aquella mañana, minuto arriba, minuto abajo, una mosca que parecía muerta desde hacía tiempo en el cristal de la ventana abrió las alas de repente, se las limpió con esmero, restregándoselas bien, echó a volar y al rato cambió de dirección y fue a posarse en la repisa de la mesita de noche. (Traducción del italiano de Carlos Mayor)

Sinopsis: En Vigàta las escenas nocturnas adquieren una belleza leopardiana, pero no absorben el murmullo de las alas invisibles en la tiniebla. En una calle solitaria, una mujer de unos treinta años es raptada, narcotizada con cloroformo y abandonada sin sufrir violencia ni robo, lo mismo que le ocurrió la víspera a la sobrina de Enzo, el propietario de la trattoria favorita de Salvo Montalbano. Ambas tienen en común la edad y que trabajan en sucursales bancarias. Unos días más tarde, otra joven es secuestrada con idéntico modus operandi, pero liberada en este caso con una treintena de cortes superficiales por todo el cuerpo menos la cara. Y coincidiendo con estos sucesos tan extraños, un incendio a todas luces provocado arrasa en parte una tienda cuyo dueño y su novia han desaparecido sin dejar rastro. La situación huele a mafia, pero el paso del tiempo no ha hecho perder a Montalbano un ápice de su fino olfato para descifrar los pequeños detalles y captar las motivaciones ocultas. Cuando todo apunta a una explicación más que obvia, el ejercicio de una lógica impecable lleva al comisario hacia una realidad mucho más compleja, un entramado de perversiones, traiciones y venganzas. En ese laberinto pantanoso de servidumbres y desamores, de lóbrego malestar, se esconde, entre un dédalo de confusiones, una «cámara de la muerte»: la última, la más secreta, el lugar donde lo espera agazapada la verdad.

Mi opinión: El día no había empezado bien. Montalbano confundió al hombre más peligroso, el del cuchillo, con el más débil. Los carabineros confundieron a Montalbano con un alborotador. Adelina confundió a un hombre honesto con un ladrón. Y, dado que los problemas siempre vienen de cuatro en cuatro, Montalbano estaba seguro de que esa misma mañana mató a la mosca inocente, confundiéndola con la culpable. Una vez en la comisaria, Fazio tiene una historia interesante que contarle. A última hora de la noche, un hombre apareció para informar que su hija Manuela fue secuestrada hace cinco días cuando regresaba a casa. Fue dormida con cloroformo y liberada en pocas horas sin más daños y con todas sus pertenencias intactas. El incidente podría haber pasado inadvertido si no hubiera sido por Enzo, el propietario de la trattoria favorita de Montalbano, quien ese mismo día le contó a Montalbano que su sobrina Michela fue víctima de un secuestro similar. Los dos episodios tienen una sola cosa en común, ambas jóvenes trabajan en un banco. A la mañana siguiente, un incendio destruye una gran tienda que vende televisores, teléfonos móviles y otros dispositivos electrónicos, y el propietario, un tal Marcello Di Carlo, no aparece por ninguna parte. El fuego parece haber comenzado deliberadamente y no se puede descartar la mano de la mafia, pero Montalbano no se deja engañar por las apariencias.

Me ha gustado mucho ver a Camilleri una vez más en plena forma en esta nueva entrega. La historia lo tiene todo, una trama intrigante, un misterio apasionante y los personajes habituales de Camilleri. Fue bastante divertido ver cómo Montalbano logra salir con éxito de las situaciones comprometedoras en las que se encuentra involucrado. Todo salpicado con un sentido del humor muy peculiar, como se puede ver en el siguiente pasaje:

“Estaba claro que estaba destinado a la clase de brillante carrera habitual en muchos de los ejecutivos hoy en día: rápido ascenso (tal vez por vender a su propia madre al mejor postor), llegada a la cima, desplome inmediato del valor de las acciones de la empresa, banco o lo que sea, desaparición del citado ejecutivo y reaparición, un año mas tarde del mismo ejecutivo en un puesto de mucha mayor importancia.”

Una lectura muy agradable. Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Andrea Camilleri nació en 1925 en Porto Empedocle, provincia de Agrigento, Sicilia, y últimamente vivía en Roma, donde impartió clases en la Academia de Arte Dramático. Durante cuarenta años fue guionista y director de teatro y televisión. En 1994 crea el personaje de Salvo Montalbano, el entrañable comisario siciliano protagonista de una serie que en la actualidad consta de veintiséis novelas. Todos sus libros ocupan habitualmente el primer puesto en las principales listas de éxitos italianas. Andrea Camilleri es hoy el escritor más popular de Italia y uno de los más leídos de Europa. En 2014 fue galardonado con el IX Premio Pepe Carvalho. El 17 de junio de 2019, Camilleri sufrió un ataque al corazón. Fue ingresado en un hospital en estado crítico y falleció el 17 de julio de 2019. Le echaremos mucho de menos. (Fuente: Ediciones Salamandra)

Ediciones Salamandra página de publicidad

5 thoughts on “My Book Notes: The Overnight Kidnapper, 2014 (An Inspector Montalbano Mystery Book 23) by Andrea Camilleri (trans: Stephen Sartarelli)”

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