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Inspector (Commissario) Montalbano Series by Andrea Camilleri (Last Updated Monday, 7 July 2018 13:20)

homeThis entry was originally intended as a private note, but I have thought it can be of some interest to readers of this blog. Please bear in mind it is a work in progress, you may find my reviews of the books I’ve read so far clicking on the books’ titles. Your comments are welcome. I would appreciate if you let me know of any error and/or omission you may find on this page. Thank you beforehand.

Inspector (Commissario) Salvo Montalbano is a Sicilian fictional character that was created by Italian writer Andrea Camilleri. The novels are written in a mixture of Italian and Sicilian dialects. As you would expect much of the action takes place on the island of Sicily. They are detective novels intertwined with humour, and social comment.

Salvo Montalbano is a typical Sicilian chalk full of all of the idiosyncrasies and above all else good detective work. He has his own ways of doing things and is seen be his superiors as a loose cannon. He is constantly dealing in a world of shady characters, with different connections, who operate in a your scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours sort of dynamic. Yet through it all the Inspector manages to remain true and uncompromising at least to a point where he can still live with himself. The character involves a great deal of humour but the author also adds hard criticism of both Italian and Sicilian political and social situation. Unlike most detective novels where these contexts are simply skimmed over or ignored altogether, these elements form a backbone to the tales of the inspector.

Montalbano is the head of the Vigata police precinct. As such he must balance the desires of his superiors, the reality of the crime rate in the area and, of course his personal life. To make matters even murkier there are two factions within the force that are trying to control the way things are done. The ideology coming from Milan is a standardized regulated way of doing police work. This northern view demands and increase in transparency and a desire to do things by the book. On the opposite side of the spectrum in the southern outlook to law enforcement that involves intricate interpersonal connections that effect how justice is carried out. What makes Inspector Montalbano so effective is his ability to balance between these two opposite factions; it is not always an easy task but he has a knack of keeping everyone happy. Any mention of Italy is usually followed by an image of great food. Inspector Montalbano often eats well-described meals during his adventures, bringing a delightful gastronomic aspect to the series as a whole.

The original Italian series of novels began in 1994. The novels were not translated into English until 2002, after 6 novels had already been complete. Stephen Santarelli, whom critics say managed to maintain a distinct Italian feel despite the fact that the stories were being told in English, does the translation.

Since 1999 there has been television movies of the Inspector Montalbano adventures being produced in Italy. To date there are 26 separate titles. There were two episodes produced annually for the first 6 years of the run, this number has been increased for the last three seasons to 4. Usually produced at a rate of two annually. The series is very popular and shows no signs of ending any time soon.

Inspector Montalbano is an intelligent competent detective. He manages to wade through the reality of Sicilian life while maintaining his honesty and his integrity. The novels are filled with wonderful character and enough comedic episodes to entertain even the most discerning reader. This is not gratuitous comedy, but rather real, tangible events that are believable and would be comical if witnessed first hand. Beside the characters, the comedic elements and even the fabulous backdrop that makes up the novels, the often referred to gastronomic reality of the Italian island is present as well. We can almost smell the wonderful dishes that are being prepared and consumed, all whilst immersed into thought provoking mysteries that are intriguing up to the very end. (Source: Book series in order)

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]; La giostra degli scambi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2015; L’altro capo del filo, Palermo, Sellerio, 2016; La rete di protezione, Palermo, Sellerio, 2017; Il metodo Catalanotti, Palermo, Sellerio, 2018; and Riccardino (inedito). In bold letters some of my favourite titles, but need to re-think some titles I read some time ago, like August Heat for instance.

Besides Inspector Montalbano also appears in the following collections of short stories and novellas: Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories, 2016 [A selection of 21 short stories, of his 59 published stories featuring Chief Insp. Salvo Montalbano. This selection includes the following titles: ‘Montalbano’s first case’, ‘Fifty pairs of hobnailed boots’, ‘Neck and neck’; ‘Fellow traveler’; ‘Dress rehearsal’; ‘Amore’; ‘The artist’s touch’; ‘Montalbano’s rice fritters’; ‘As Alice did’; ‘The pact’; ‘Mortally wounded’; ‘Catarella solves a case’; ‘Being here’; ‘Seven Mondays’; ‘Judicial review’; ‘Pessoa maintains’; ‘The cat and the goldfinch’; ‘Montalbano says no’; ‘A kidnapping’; ‘Montalbano afraid’ and ‘Better than darkness’], and Death at Sea, Mantle , September 2018 [a collection of eight short stories featuring the young Inspector Montalbano]

In Italian the following collections are available in book form: Un mese con Montalbano, 1998 ; Gli arancini di Montalbano  1999 ; La paura di Montalbano, 2002; La prima indagine di Montalbano, 2004; Morte in mare aperto e altre indagini del giovane Montalbano, 2014.

About the author: Andrea Camilleri was born in Porto Empedocle in 1925. He made his debut as a theater director, in Rome, in 1953. He subsequently worked as a producer and scriptwriter and as a director for RAI radio and television. He also taught Actor Directing at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, and theatre directing at the Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica Silvio d’Amico for fifteen years. He published his first novel in 1978 and has never stopped writing since. He has published more than a hundred volumes: historical novels, political essays, and crime novels, including the celebrated Commissario Montalbano series. His books have sold almost 25 million copies in Italy and 15 million copies abroad, and have been translated into into 37 languages. The Commissario Montalbano tv series has been broadcasted in more than 60 countries. He writes for many Italian and foreign newspapers and has won numerous literary awards in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. (Source: Alferj e Prestia agenzia letteraria)

Read more at:

The man behind Inspector Montalbano

https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/andrea-camilleri/inspector-montalbano-mysteries

https://sellerio.it/it/cerca/risultati_lib.php?f=montalbano&cerca=Cerca

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Review: The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 (Montalbano #22) by Andrea Camilleri (Trans: Stephen Sartarelli)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Mantle, 2018. Format; Kindle edition. File size: 2674 KB. Print length: 274 pages. ASIN: B074SVBH86. ISBN: 978-1-4472-9837-3. First published in Italian in 2014 as La piramide di fango by Sellerio Editore, Palermo. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli in 2018.

610nUmH 9kLFirst paragraph: The thunderclap was so loud that not only did Montalbano suddenly wake up in terror, but he gave such a start that he nearly fell out of bed.

Synopsis: It’s been raining for days in Vigàta, and the persistent downpours have led to violent floods overtaking the Inspector’s beloved hometown, sweeping across the land and leaving only a sea of mud behind. It is on one of these endless grey days that a man – a Mr Giuglù Nicotra – is found dead. His body discovered in a large sewage tunnel, half naked and with a bullet in his back. The investigation is slow and slippery to start with, but when Montalbano realizes that every clue he uncovers and every person he interviews is leading to the same place: the world of public spending – and with it, the Mafia – the case begins to pick up pace. But there’s one question that keeps playing on Montalbano’s mind: in his strange and untimely death, was Giuglù Nicotra trying to tell him something?

My take: Montalbano have just woken himself up recalling the dream he was having. He was walking through a tunnel in complete darkness, except for an oil lamp  which didn’t gave off much light. A man was following him, someone whom he knew but whose name he couldn’t remember. The man was not being able to keep up with him and was loosing too much blood due to a wound.  When Montalbano heard a scream, he turned around just to realise that the man had dropped on the ground dead. He was remembering all this seeing a man’s body that had been discovered on a construction site, in a kind of tunnel inside a pipe. Forensics had established he was shot before he went into the pipe and had died about an hour before his corpse was found. Not without effort, the body was identified as Giuglù Nicotra, the head accounting officer for one of the leading construction companies. Nicotra was married with a young German woman. The investigation of the case leads Montalbano to the shadowy world of public contracting and bogus concessions. Powerful forces will do whatever it takes to force shutting the investigation as a clear case of domestic jealousies. However Montalbano is not willing to look the other way and, true to his principles, he won’t stop until finding the truth. Meanwhile Livia remains depressed for François death until she returns to be her own self upon adopting a pet puppy.

Occasionally, when reading a Montalbano book, one may have the impression that they respond to a plain formula, though quite effective and highly successful. It may be true in this new instalment in the series, but anyway I must confess I’ve enjoyed reading The Pyramid of Mud. I’ve always find in this series an antidote to boredom. Its stories transport us to a setting that, although known, it’s nonetheless fascinating. Its dialogues are smart and funny, the interaction between characters is extremely entertaining, Camilleri has a nice sense of humour, and his novels are seasoned with a fine dose of social and political criticism of present day Italy that, in my view, is very gratifying, and is part of Camilleri’s unique hallmark. Even when Camilleri is not at his very best, it is always a pleasure reading one of his books. And this particular book is no exception. I truly believe that it will not disappoint his faithful readers and that it may be prove appealing to those who would like to get into Inspector Montalbano’s world for the first time. Thus, I have no objection whatsoever in recommending this book.

A short snippet to illustrate this:

Walking past Catarella’s desk, he noticed he was busy trying to solve a crossword puzzle. His brow was furrowed and he was chewing the end of his pencil. `Need any help’?’ ?Yeah, Chief. I can’t tink od a wold.’ ‘What’s the definition?’ ‘”Together with the carabinieri, they pursue killers and thieves and maintain law and order.” ‘How many letters?’ ‘Six.’ ‘Police.? ‘Are you sure? I tought o’ that, but then I arased it.’ ‘Why?’ ‘When have us police ever woiked t’gether with the carabinieri?’ Iron-clad logic.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the Author: Andrea Camilleri born 6 September 1925) is an Italian writer. 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. Camilleri now lives in Rome. (Source: Wikipedia)

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 Saba in 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: https://www.poets.org)

The Pyramid of Mud has several reviews at Goodreads

Pan MacMillan publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Sellerio publicity page 

Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series

audible

La pirámide de fango, de Andrea Camilleri

Primer párrafo: El restallido del trueno fue tan fuerte que Montalbano no solo se despertó de golpe y porrazo con un buen susto en el cuerpo, sino que además por poco se cayó de la cama del gran respingo que dio. (traducción Carlos Mayor Ortega)

Sinopsis: Durante días ha estado lloviendo en Vigàta, y los persistentes aguaceros han desembocado en violentas inundaciones que han anegado la querida ciudad natal del inspector, arrasando la tierra y dejando solo un mar de lodo. Es en uno de estos interminables días grises que un hombre, un tal señor Giuglù Nicotra, es encontrado muerto. Su cuerpo apareció en un gran túnel de aguas residuales, medio desnudo y con una bala en la espalda. La investigación es lenta y resbaladiza para empezar, pero cuando Montalbano se da cuenta de que cada pista que descubre y cada persona que entrevista está conduciendo al mismo lugar: el mundo del gasto público, y con él, la Mafia, el caso comienza a adquirir ritmo. Pero hay una pregunta que le sigue rondando a Montalbano en la cabeza: en su extraña y prematura muerte, ¿no estaba acaso Giuglù Nicotra tratando de decirle algo?

Mi opinión: Montalbano acaba de despertarsr recordando el sueño que estaba teniendo. Estaba caminando a través de un túnel en completa oscuridad, a excepción de una lámpara de aceite que no emitía mucha luz. Un hombre lo estaba siguiendo, alguien a quien conocía pero cuyo nombre no podía recordar. El hombre no podía seguirle el ritmo y estaba perdiendo demasiada sangre debido a una herida. Cuando Montalbano oyó un grito, se dio la vuelta para darse cuenta de que el hombre había caído muerto al suelo. Estaba recordando todo esto al ver el cuerpo de un hombre que había sido descubierto en una obra en construcción, en una especie de túnel dentro de una tubería. Los forenses habían establecido que le dispararon antes de entrar en la tubería y que había muerto aproximadamente una hora antes de que encontraran su cadáver. No sin esfuerzo, el cuerpo fue identificado como Giuglù Nicotra, el director contable de una de las principales empresas constructoras. Nicotra estaba casado con una joven alemana. La investigación del caso conduce a Montalbano hasta el tenebroso mundo de la contratación pública y de las falsas concesiones. Poderosas fuerzas harán lo que sea necesario para obligar a cerrar la investigación como un caso claro de celos familiares. Sin embargo, Montalbano no está dispuesto a mirar hacia otro lado y, fiel a sus principios, no se detendrá hasta encontrar la verdad. Mientras tanto, Livia sigue deprimida por la muerte de François hasta que vuelve a ser ella misma al adoptar un cachorro como mascota.

Ocasionalmente, al leer un libro de Montalbano, uno puede tener la impresión de que responden a una fórmula simple, aunque bastante efectiva y altamente exitosa. Puede ser cierto en esta nueva entrega de la serie, pero de todos modos debo confesar que he disfrutado leyendo La pirámide de fango. Siempre he encontrado en esta serie un antídoto contra el aburrimiento. Sus historias nos transportan a un escenario que, aunque conocido, no deja de ser fascinante. Sus diálogos son inteligentes y divertidos, la interacción entre personajes es extremadamente entretenida, Camilleri tiene un buen sentido del humor, y sus novelas están sazonadas con una buena dosis de crítica social y política de la Italia actual que, en mi opinión, es muy gratificante , y es parte del sello distintivo de Camilleri.  Incluso cuando Camilleri no está en su mejor momento, siempre es un placer leer uno de sus libros. Y este libro en particular no es una excepción. Realmente creo que no defraudará a sus fieles lectores y que puede resultar atractivo para aquellos a quienes les gustaría adentrarse por primera vez en el mundo del Inspector Montalbano. Por lo tanto, no tengo ninguna objeción en recomendar este libro.

Un pequeño fragmento para ilustrar esto:

Al pasar junto a la mesa de Catarella, notó que estaba ocupado tratando de resolver un crucigrama. Tenía el ceño fruncido y mordía el extremo de su lápiz.
-¿Necesitas ayuda?
-Sí, Jefe. No consigo saberlo.
-¿Cuál es la definición?
-Junto con los carabinieri, persiguen asesinos y ladrones, mateniendo la ley y el orden.
-¿Cuántas letras?
-Siete.
-Policía.
-¿Está seguro? Lo pensé, pero luego lo borré.
-¿Por qué?
-¿Cuándo hemos trabajado nosotros la policía con los carabinieri?
Lógica aplastante.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Andrea Camilleri nació en 1925 en Porto Empedocle, provincia de Agrigento, Sicilia, y actualmente vive 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. (Fuente: Ediciones Salamandra)

Salamandra página de publicidad

Review: A Nest of Vipers (Inspector Montalbano mysteries Book 21), by Andrea Camilleri. Trans.: Stephen Sartarelli

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Mantle, 2017. Format: Kindel edition. File size: 1872 KB, Print Length: 274 pages. Originally published as Un covo di vipere by Sallerio Editore in 2013, though it was written in 2008. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli. ISBN: 978-1-4472-6600-6. ASIN: B06WVJ3X1H.

9781447265986a nest of vipers_6_jpg_266_400A Nest of Vipers is the twenty-first novel in Andrea Camilleri’s irresistible Inspector Montalbano series. Quite a family, you had to admit! A nest of vipers might be a better description . . .

Synopsis: On what should be a quiet Sunday morning, Inspector Montalbano is called to a murder scene on the Sicilian coast. A man has discovered his father dead in his Vigàtan beach house: his body slumped on the dining room floor, his morning coffee spilt across the table, and a single gunshot wound at the base of his skull. First appearances point to the son having the most to gain from his father’s untimely death, a notion his sister can’t help but reinforce. But when Montalbano delves deeper into the case, and learns of the dishonourable life the victim led, it soon becomes clear half of Vigàta has a motive for his murder and this won’t be as simple as the Inspector had once hoped…

My take: It is well known that Andrea Camilleri, above all, is a dramatist, a man of theatre. This facet becomes evident in the importance of the dialogues in his novels, to the point that we might say his novels are driven by its dialogues. This is also one of the reasons that explains the success of the TV series based on his character, Montalbano. But in this novel in particular, I’ve noticed a certain degree of thematic similarity with a classical Greek tragedy. Though allow me not to say anything else to avoid giving away too many details of the story.

I fully agree with Ricardo Bosque (see below his review at Calibre.38) when he writes that although reading Montalbano is to read the same story over and over, however there’s is nothing more pleasant than visiting an old friend. The important thing is to feel at home, to enjoy a perfect structure, uncomplicated, full of great characters and better dialogues, nimble and witty.  In a nutshell, a Montalbano novel is the best antidote against boredom and apathy and certainly helps to overcome any reading tedium we might have fallen into.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to meeting Montalbano once again.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers. The Inspector Montalbano series has been translated into thirty-two languages and was adapted for Italian television, screened on BBC4. The Potter’s Field, the thirteenth book in the series, was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger for the best crime novel translated into English. He lives in Rome.

About the translator: Stephen Sartarelli is a contemporary poet and prize-winning translator. He has written three books of poetry and translated over forty works of fiction and poetry, focusing on French and Italian. Though born in Ohio, he currently lives with his wife in southern France.

A Nest of Vipers has been reviewed at the crime segments.

Panmacmillan publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page 

Un covo di vipere, Sellerio publicty page 

An Interview with Andrea Camilleri

audible

Un nido de víboras, de Andrea Camilleri

Un nido de víboras es la vigesimoprimera novela de la irresistible serie protagonizada por el Inspector Montalbano de Andrea Camilleri ¡Una gran familia, débe admitir! Un nido de víboras podría ser una descripción. mejor….

Sinopsis: En la que debería ser una tranquila mañana de domingo, el inspector Montalbano acude a la  escena de un asesinato en la costa siciliana. Un hombre ha descubierto a su padre muerto en su casa de la playa en Vigàta: su cuerpo desplomado en el suelo del comedor, su café mañanero derramado sobre la mesa y una sola herida de bala en la base de su cráneo. Las primeras apariencias apuntan a que es el hijo quien tiene más que ganar con la muerte prematura de su padre, una idea que su hermana no puede más que reafirmar. Pero cuando Montalbano profundiza en el caso, y se entera de la vida deshonrosa que llevaba la víctima, pronto queda claro que la mitad de Vigàta tiene un móvil para asesinarlo y el caso no será tan simple como el Inspector esperaba …

Mi opinión: Es bien sabido que Andrea Camilleri es, sobre todo, un dramaturgo, un hombre de teatro. Esta faceta se hace evidente en la importancia de los diálogos en sus novelas, al punto que podríamos decir que sus novelas están impulsadas por sus diálogos. Esta es también una de las razones que explica el éxito de la serie de televisión basada en su personaje, Montalbano. Pero en esta novela en particular, he notado un cierto grado de similitud temática con una tragedia griega clásica. Aunque permítanme no decir nada más para evitar dar demasiados detalles de la historia

Estoy completamente de acuerdo con Ricardo Bosque (ver abajo su reseña en Calibre.38) cuando escribe que aunque leer a Montalbano es leer una y otra vez la misma historia, sin embargo, no hay nada más agradable que visitar a un viejo amigo. Lo importante es sentirse como en casa, disfrutar de una estructura perfecta, sin complicaciones, llena de grandes personajes y mejores diálogos, ágiles e ingeniosos. En pocas palabras, una novela de Montalbano es el mejor antídoto contra el aburrimiento y la apatía, y ciertamente ayuda a superar cualquier tedio de lectura en el que hayamos podido caer.

No hace falta añadir que estoy deseando encontrarme nuevamente con Montalbano.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Andrea Camilleri nació en 1925 en Porto Empedocle, provincia de Agrigento, Sicilia, y actualmente vive 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.

Un nido de víboras ha sido reseñada en Calibre.38, Solo Novela Negra, y Mis queridos sabuesos, entre otros.

Salamandra página de publicidad

Review: A Voice in the Night, 2016 (Montalbano #20) by Andrea Camilleri (Trans. Stephen Sartarelli)

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PIcador, 2017. Format: Paperback edition. First published in the UK 2016 by Mantle. Originally published in Italian, 2012, as Una voce di notte by Sallerio Editore. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4472-6459-0. Number of pages: 288.

S9781447264590a voice in the night_1_jpg_265_400ynopsis: Feeling his age, as his birthday rolls round once again, Inspector Montalbano decides to cheer himself up by dealing with a young driver’s road rage in his own unique way. But his joy is short-lived, as at police headquarters he receives an angry phone call from a supermarket boss; there’s been a robbery at his store and Montalbano’s colleague is treating him as a suspect. On arrival at the scene, Montalbano quickly agrees with Inspector Augello that this was no ordinary break-in, but with the supermarket’s infamous links to the Mafia creating problems at every turn, this isn’t going to be an easy case for the inspector to solve. And to add to the inspector’s burden, the young driver he made an enemy of earlier on has returned to police headquarters to report a shocking crime . . .

My take: It’s been a long time since I read my last Montalbano, and I was beginning to feel its absence between my readings.The Voice in the Night revolves around two different investigations. On the one hand a robbery in a supermarket that soon becomes much more serious. As the story unfolds the supermarket manager seems to have committed suicide, most likely for fear of possible reprisals from his bosses, the powerful Cuffaro family. On the other hand, the girlfriend of Giovanni Strangio has appeared dead in the house they both share. But Strangio is not an ordinary citizen, he is the son of the all-powerful Michele Strangio, president of the province. And the social and political implications of both investigations will require Montalbano and his men to proceed with the greatest caution.

In recent years, perhaps because of his increasing age, he was less and less able to control the disdain, and the subsequent feeling of rebellion, aroused in him by the more or less open support that a certain political formation, through the involvement of certain members of Parliament and senators, was always ready to provide the Mafia. And now they were even starting to pass a number of laws that hadn’t the slightest thing to do with the law. What country was it there where a minister had once said, while in office, that one had to learn to live with the Mafia? What country was it where a senator, convicted for first-degree collusion with the Mafia, had recycled himself and been re-elected? What country was it where a regional deputy, convicted for aiding and abetting Mafiosi, had risen to the rank of senator? What country was it where a man, who’d been a minister and Prime Minister a great many times, had been found definitively guilty of the crime of collusion with the Mafia and yet continued to enjoy the status of senator for life?

I’ve little doubts that this is probably one of the most politically conscious books in the series. A book that provides a very lucid analysis of the political situation in Italy at that time, without however forgetting that it’s a mystery novel, enjoyable, amusing and perfectly crafted. I do hope that it will please equally the followers of this series, as those who want to begin reading it for the first time. It’s interesting to note that, though first published in Italy in 2012, the novel was probably written around 2007-8. More likely after The Track of Sand. In fact there’s a note form the author that explicitly says: ‘Any attentive reader who notices the more or less accentuated crises of aging, or the more or less decontextualized quarrels with Livia, and so on, should not blame it on the author but on the secret alchemy of publishers’ schedules.’ Brilliant.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers. The Inspector Montalbano series has been translated into thirty-two languages and was adapted for Italian television, screened on BBC4. The Potter’s Field, the thirteenth book in the series, was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger for the best crime novel translated into English. He lives in Rome. To my knowledge the Montalbano series is so far comprised by the following novels: The Shape of Water; The Terra-Cotta Dog; The Snack Thief; The Voice of the Violin; The Excursion To Tindari; The Smell of the Night aka The Scent of the Night; Rounding the Mark; The Patience of the Spider; The Paper Moon; August Heat; The Wings of the Sphinx; The Track of Sand; The Potter’s Field; The Age of Doubt; The Dance of the Seagull; The Treasure Hunt; Angelica’s Smile; Game of Mirrors; A Beam of Light aka Blade of Light; A Voice in the Night; A Nest of Vipers; The Pyramid of Mud; La giostra degli scambi; L’altro capo del filo; La rete di protezione.

About the translator: Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator. He is also the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Open Vault. He lives in France.

A Voice in the Night has been reviewed by the crime segments.

Penguin Books US publicity page

Pan Macmillan publicity page

Sellerio publicity page

Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series

audible 

Andrea Camilleri (Da Wikipedia, l’enciclopedia libera)

Una voz en la noche , de Andrea Camilleri

Sinopsis: El día de su cincuenta y ocho cumpleaños, el comisario Salvo Montalbano tiene un altercado en la autopista con un conductor imprudente, un joven que resultará ser el hijo del presidente provincial. Esa misma noche se produce un extraño robo en un supermercado controlado por la familia Cuffaro, una de las más notorias de la mafia local. Cuando Guido Borsellino, el director del establecimiento, se suicida tras el durísimo interrogatorio al que lo someten Montalbano y Mimì Augello, que lo acusan de haber amañado el robo, la opinión pública pondrá al comisario y a sus hombres contra las cuerdas. Pero las cosas se complican aún más cuando la jovencísima prometida de Giovanni Strangio, el conductor temerario, aparece salvajemente acuchillada en casa de éste. Los obstáculos se suceden durante las pesquisas, y Montalbano se verá envuelto en una doble trama en la que el crimen organizado y la política parecen estar dándose la mano por debajo de la mesa. Borsellino, por supuesto, no se suicidó, y para descubrir el secreto que se llevó a la tumba, Salvo decide actuar por su cuenta y tirar de todos los cabos sueltos que tiene al alcance de su intuición. Las dos investigaciones se entrecruzarán y la incómoda verdad será una prueba más de la infinita dimensión que puede alcanzar la miseria humana.

Mi opinión: Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde que leí mi último Montalbano, y estaba empezando a sentir su ausencia entre mis lecturas. Una voz en la noche gira en torno a dos investigaciones diferentes. Por un lado un robo en un supermercado que pronto se vuelve mucho más grave. A medida que la historia se desarrolla el gerente de supermercado parece haberse suicidado, muy probablemente por temor a posibles represalias de sus jefes, la poderosa familia Cuffaro. Por otro lado, la novia de Giovanni Strangio ha aparecido muerta en la casa que ambos comparten. Pero Strangio no es un ciudadano corriente, es hijo del todopoderoso Michele Strangio, presidente de la provincia. Y las implicaciones sociales y políticas de ambas investigaciones requerirán de Montalbano y de sus hombres que procedan con la mayor cautela.

En los últimos años, tal vez debido a su mayor edad, era cada vez menos capaz de controlar el desdén, y el subsiguiente sentimiento de rebelidía, que le hacía sentir el apoyo más o menos abierto que una cierta formación política, a través de la participación de ciertos Miembros del Parlamento y senadores, estaba siempre dispuesta a proporcionar a la Mafia. Y ahora comenzaban incluso a aprobar una serie de leyes que no tenían nada que ver con la ley. ¿Qué país era donde un ministro había dicho una vez, mientras ocupaba el cargo, que uno tenía que aprender a vivir con la Mafia? ¿Qué país era donde un senador, condenado por connivencia de primer grado con la Mafia, se había reciclado y había sido reelegido? ¿Qué país era donde un diputado regional, condenado por ayudar y alentar a los Mafiosi, había alcanzado el rango de senador? ¿Qué país era donde un hombre, que había sido ministro y primer ministro muchas veces, había sido declarado definitivamente culpable del delito de connivencia con la Mafia y, sin embargo, continuaba disfrutando del estatuto de senador vitalicio?

Tengo pocas dudas de que este es probablemente uno de los libros más políticamente conscientes de la serie. Un libro que proporciona un análisis muy lúcido de la situación política en Italia en ese momento, sin olvidar sin embargo que es una novela de misterio, agradable, divertida y perfectamente elaborada. Espero que les guste igualmente a los seguidores de esta serie, como a aquellos que quieran comenzar a leerla por primera vez. Es interesante observar que, aunque publicada inicialmente en Italia en el 2012, la novela fue escrita probablemente alrededor de 2007-8. Muy probablemente después de La pista de arena. De hecho, hay una nota del autor que dice explícitamente: “Cualquier lector atento que note las crisis más o menos acentuadas de envejecimiento o las peleas más o menos descontextualizadas con Livia, etc., no debe culpar al autor, sino a La alquimia secreta de la programación de los editores.” Brillante.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre le autor: Andrea Camilleri nació en 1925 en Porto Empedocle, provincia de Agrigento, Sicilia, y actualmente vive 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. A mi entender, la serie de Montalbano está formada hasta ahora por las siguientes novelas: La forma del agua, El perro de terracota, El ladrón de meriendas, La voz del violín, La excursión a Tindari, El olor de la noche, Un giro decisivo, La paciencia de la araña, La luna de papel, Ardores de Agosto, Las alas de la Esfinge, La pista de arena, El campo del alfarero, La edad de la duda, La danza de la gaviota, La búsqueda del tesoro, La sonrisa de Angélica, Juego de espejos, Un filo de luz, Una voz en la noche, Un nido de víboras, La piramide di fango, La giostra degli scambi, L’altro capo del filo, La rete di protezione.

Ver otras reseñas de Una voz en la noche en Calibre.38, Leer sin prisa, Solo Novela Negra.

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Review: Blade of Light (2015) by Andrea Camilleri (tra.: Stephen Sartarelli)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Picador, 2016. Format: Paperback. First published in the UK 2015 by Mantle. Originally published in Italian 2012 as Una lama di luce by Sellerio. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli 2015. ISBN-13: 978 1 4472 6451 4. Number of pages: 296.

9781447264514Blade of LightSynopsis: When a gentleman arrives at Montalbano’s station to report an armed robbery on his wife that ended with a kiss, the inspector’s suspicions are aroused. As he delves deeper into the case, Montalbano finds that none of the witnesses’ stories are adding up, and he can’t help but feel that they’re not meant to. When a body turns up showing all the signs of a mafia hit, the inspector knows he must excavate the truth from what he is being led to believe. Meanwhile there’s a case that keeps winding its way back to Montalbano’s office. A locked door has suddenly appeared on a farmer’s disused shed, and then, just as quickly, the door disappears. The anti-terrorist police soon intervene, but why are they so keen to keep this away from the inspector? And why does he sense that this case is connected to him somehow? With deceit at every turn and a distraction of the heart taking over his head, Inspector Montalbano must focus if he is ever going to solve this mystery.  

My take: Blade of Light  (apa A Beam of Light in the US) is the nineteenth book in the Inspector Montalbano series. As usual, the novel not only deals with several cases at the same time, it also provides an overview of different aspects of culture and traditions of Sicilian daily life, where the food plays a very important role. The atmosphere and sense of place are nicely defined, but the characters have seemed to me more stereotyped than usual. I also find that the story rests more on Camilleri’s usual formula, but nevertheless it works out pretty well. Camilleri’s strength lies mainly on his dialogues and here we find him at his best. For me, the reading of any of his books in the series is always a pleasure. Call it a guilty pleasure, if you wish. Perhaps, I have also detected a more melancholic tone in this occasion. Maybe it’s related to age, after all Camilleri is already 91 years old, he was 87 when he published this book, and he still publishes at least one book per year. A Voice in the Night (Montalbano #20) is already available and then come: Un covo di vipere, 2013 (#21), La piramide di fango, 2014 (#22), La giostra degli scambi, 2015 (#23) and L’altro capo del filo, 2016 (#24). I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did, if you decide to read it.

My rating: B ( I really liked it)

About the author: Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers. The Inspector Montalbano series has been translated into thirty-two languages and was adapted for Italian television, screened on BBC4. The Potter’s Field, the thirteenth book in the series, was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger for the best crime novel translated into English. He lives in Rome.

The translator: Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator. He is also the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Open Vault. He lives in France.

Blade of Light has been reviewed at: Shots Magazine and at The Book Bag,

Pan Macmillan publicity page

Picador publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Sellerio publicity page (In Italian)

Salvo Montalbano page at Wikipedia

Un filo de luz de Andrea Camilleri

Sinopsis: Cuando un caballero llega a la comisaría de Montalbano para denunciar el robo a mano armada que sufrió su mujer y terminó con un beso, el suceso despierta las sospechas del inspector. Conforme  profundiza en el caso, Montalbano observa que ninguna de las historias de los testigos casan, y no puede evitar la sensación de que ni siquiera lo intentan. Luego, cuando aparece un cuerpo con señales evidentes de tratarse de un golpe de la Mafia, el inspector sabe que tendrá que indagar a fondo en lo que quieren hacerle creer para poder llegar hasta la verdad. Mientras tanto hay un caso que, tras recorrer un sinuoso camino, llega una y otra vez a la oficina de Montalbano. Una puerta cerrada ha aparecido de repente en un cobertizo en desuso propiedad de un agricultor, y luego, con la misma rapidez, la puerta ha desaparecido. La policía antiterrorista interviene pronto, pero ¿por qué tienen tanto interés por mantener este asunto fuera del alcance del inspector? ¿Y por qué siente que este caso está, en cierto modo, relacionado con él? Con mentiras a cada paso que da y con una distracción amorosa que le ocupa el pensamiento, el inspector Montalbano debe concentrarse para poder resolver este misterio.

Mi opinión: Un filo de luz es el décimo noveno libro de la serie del Inspector Montalbano. Como de costumbre, la novela no sólo se ocupa de varios casos, al mismo tiempo, sino que también nos proporciona una visión general de los diferentes aspectos de la cultura y las  tradiciones de la vida cotidiana de Sicilia, en donde la comida desempeña un papel muy importante. El ambiente y el sentido de lugar están muy bien definidos, pero los personajes me han parecido algo más estereotipados que de costumbre. También encuentro que la historia descansa en la fórmula habitual de Camilleri, aunque no obstante funciona bastante bien. La fuerza de Camilleri radica principalmente en sus diálogos y  aquí lo encontramos en su mejor forma. Para mí, la lectura de cualquiera de los libros de la serie es siempre un placer. Llámenlo un placer culpable, si lo desean. Tal vez he detectado también un tono más melancólico que de costumbre en esta ocasión. Quizá está relacionado con la edad, después de todo Camilleri ya tiene 91 años, tenía 87 cuando publicó este libro, y todavía publica al menos un libro cada año. Una voz en la noche (Montalbano # 20) ya está disponible y luego vienen: Un covo di vipere, 2013 (#21), La piramide di fango, 2014 (#22), La giostra degli scambi, 2015 (#23) y L’altro capo del filo, 2016 (#24). Espero que disfruten de este libro tanto como yo, si deciden leerlo.

 Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

Otra reseña de Un filo de luz en Leer sin prisa

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