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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review - Game of Mirrors

This is probably my first translated foreign mystery I have reviewed, or even read.  I know, hard to believe but it's true.  This series is originally from Italy and is attracting international attention.

Author: Andrea Camilleri

Copyright: March 2015 (Penguin) 288 pgs

Series: 18th in Inspector Montalbano Mystery series

Sensuality: adult situations talked about, clinical mention of torture

Mystery Sub-genre: Italian Police Procedural

Main Characters: Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Sicilian policeman

Setting: Modern day, Sicily Italy

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Inspector Montalbano and his colleagues are stumped when a bomb explodes outside two empty warehouses—one of which is connected to a big-time drug dealer. Meanwhile, his seductive neighbor, Liliana Lombardo, is trying to seduce the Inspector over red wine and fine food and appears to want everybody else in town to believe they are already lovers. Between unethical reporters, the manipulative neighbor, and cocaine kingpins, Montalbano feels as if he’s being manipulated on all fronts, something he calls a game of mirrors. The inspector becomes the prime suspect in an unspeakably brutal crime and he must break through the illusion to reveal what is really going on. 

This was my first Montalbano mystery.  I am usually very cautious about reading translated works, for some reason I suspect translations will be difficult reading.  I must say that this book had a dry sense of humor and I found Montalbano to be wily in his own right. The writing style took me only a chapter or two to get used to, but I was soon swept away with the story.

Salvo Montalbano loves his food and is a good law officer. In this case he must see the motives behind many intentional misleading events to understand the ultimate scheme behind the bombs, a bullet in his car, his neighbor's attempts to seduce him, and anonymous tips to newspapers to implicate him in illegal activities.  He is patient in weeding through the noise to what is important.  He heads a team of other police including Augello (a married Don Juan), Fazio who is another smart cop, and the good-natured but mentally challenged Catarella.  All of which unfold on the pages simply and yet well realized.

The Sicilian countryside and town made a great setting, I would love to see Montalbano's seaside house.  You feel like you live there as you read, you feel so transported.  The plot was deceptively simple, you think you know what is happening, but it has layers to reach the truth.  The pace is steady with the multiple aspects in play.  There is an eventful climax and the wrap-up is where Montalbano ensures all parties face consequences.

I was surprised and enjoyed this unique series.  I wish I had started the series from the beginning, but I am looking forward to discovering the previous books.  Montalbano is human, faulty, smart, and crafty making him a character you cheer for.  He uses everything at his disposal, even a little misdirection of his own. 

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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Anonymous said...

If you liked this installment (the 18th in the series), which was good enough, you should read the early episodes in order, as it will deepen your appreciation of the characters and their gradual development. The first three novels in the series (The Shape of Water, The Terra Cotta Dog, The Snack Thief) are now available in an omnibus edition from Penguin entitled Death in Sicily. Happy reading!

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