Inspector Salvo Montalbano Book Series (1994–2020) by Andrea Camilleri


Just a reminder of Montalbano book series. I recently heard that The Cook of the Halcyon (#27) is among the best book in the series. I look forward to reading it soon.

9780143136187Synopsis: Giovanni Trincanato has brought ruin to the shipyard he inherited from his father and when a worker he fires hangs himself on the construction site, Inspector Montalbano is called to the scene. In short order, the inspector loses his temper with the crass Giovanni, delivers a slap to his face, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last he sees of Trincanato. Meanwhile, a mysterious schooner called Halcyon shows up in the harbor, seemingly deserted except for just one man. With its presence comes even more mysteries, another death, and the arrival of the FBI. Alongside Sicilian-American Agent Pennisi, Montalbano and his team must attempt a suspenseful infiltration operation in this new, page-turning Inspector Montalbano mystery.

Penguin Random House publicity page

Pan MacMillan publicity page

About the Author: Andrea Camilleri (1925 – 2019) was an Italian writer. Originally from Porto Empedocle, Girgenti, Sicily, Camilleri began university studies in the Faculty of Literature at the University of Palermo, but did not complete his degree; meanwhile he published poems and short stories. From 1948 to 1950 he 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. His parents knew, and were, reportedly, “distant friends” of, Pirandello, as he tells in his essay on Pirandello, Biography of the Changed Son. His most famous works, the Montalbano series, show many Pirandellian elements: for example, the wild olive tree that helps Montalbano think is on stage in his late work The Giants of the Mountain. With RAI, Camilleri worked on several TV productions, such as Le inchieste del commissario 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 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 noteworthy. Both writers make use 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 wrote a Montalbano novel every so often just so that the character would 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.

In his last years Camilleri lived in Rome where he worked as a TV and theatre director. About 10 million copies of his novels have been sold to date and are becoming increasingly popular in the UK (where BBC Four broadcast the Montalbano TV series from mid-2011), Australia and North America.

In addition to the degree of popularity brought him by the novels, Andrea Camilleri became even more of a media icon thanks to the parodies aired on an RAI radio show, where popular comedian, TV host and impressionist Fiorello presents him as a raspy voiced, caustic character, madly in love with cigarettes and smoking, since in Italy, Camilleri was well known for being a heavy smoker of cigarettes. He considered himself a “non-militant atheist”. On 17 June 2019, Camilleri suffered a heart attack. He was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. He died on 17 July 2019. (Source: Wikipedia)

Inspector Salvo Montalbano Book Series (1994–2020)

(excluding short stories)

  1. The Shape of Water, 2002 [La forma dell’acqua, Palermo, Sellerio, 1994];
  2. The Terra-Cotta Dog, 2002 [Il cane di terracotta, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996];
  3. The Snack Thief, 2003 [Il ladro di merendine, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996];
  4. The Voice of the Violin, 2003 [La voce del violino, Palermo, Sellerio, 1997];
  5. The Excursion To Tindari, 2005 [La gita a Tindari, Palermo, Sellerio, 2000];
  6. The Smell of the Night aka The Scent of the Night, 2005 [L’odore della notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2001];
  7. Rounding the Mark, 2006 [Il giro di boa, Palermo, Sellerio, 2003];
  8. The Patience of the Spider, 2007 [La pazienza del ragno, Palermo, Sellerio, 2004];
  9. The Paper Moon, 2008 [La luna di carta, Palermo, Sellerio, 2005];
  10. August Heat, 2009 [La vampa d’agosto, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006];
  11. The Wings of the Sphinx, 2009 [Le ali della sfinge, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006];
  12. The Track of Sand, 2010 [La pista di sabbia, Palermo, Sellerio, 2007];
  13. The Potter’s Field, 2011 [Il campo del vasaio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008];
  14. The Age of Doubt, 2012 [L’età del dubbio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008];
  15. The Dance of the Seagull, 2013 [La danza del gabbiano, Palermo, Sellerio, 2009];
  16. The Treasure Hunt, 2013 [La caccia al tesoro, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010];
  17. Angelica’s Smile, 2014 [Il sorriso di Angelica, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010];
  18. Game of Mirrors, 2015 [Il gioco degli specchi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010];
  19. A Beam of Light aka Blade of Light, 2015 [Una lama di luce, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012];
  20. A Voice in the Night, 2016 [Una voce di notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012];
  21. A Nest of Vipers, 2017 [Un covo di vipere, Palermo, Sellerio, 2013];
  22. The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 [La piramide di fango, Palermo, Sellerio, 2014];
  23. The Overnight Kidnapper, 2019 [La giostra degli scambi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2015];
  24. The Other End of the Line, 2019 [L’altro capo del filo, Palermo, Sellerio, 2016];
  25. The Safety Net, 2020 [La rete di protezione, Palermo, Sellerio, 2017];
  26. The Sicilian Method, 2020 [Il metodo Catalanotti, Palermo, Sellerio, 2018];
  27. The Cook of the Halcyon, 2021 [Il cuoco dell’Alcyon, Palermo, Sellerio, 2019];
  28. Riccardino, 2021 [Riccardino , Palermo, Sellerio, 2020].

4 thoughts on “Inspector Salvo Montalbano Book Series (1994–2020) by Andrea Camilleri”

  1. I had read elsewhere that “Cook of the Halcyon” was one of Camilleri’s worst efforts, largely because it was written specifically to be adapted for television. Regardless, my own opinion is between the two extremes.

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