A delightful detective

2008-10-02 08:05

ANDREA Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano from the town of Vigàta in Sicily has already appeared in several books, but this is the first time I have read one of them. And I'm off to find some of the earlier ones. Montalbano is a delight.

The book is no police procedural - procedure is not something Montalbano lets himself be bothered with. If he gets sufficiently angry, he is quite happy to break the law in spectacular fashion, and he works as much by intuition as by dogged routine. And best of all, he is highly entertaining.

In The Scent of the Night, he gets drawn into the case of a disappearing financial adviser, Emanuele Gargano, whose clients are getting increasingly angry and worried about their investments. One of Gargano's staff also seems to have vanished, while his loyal secretary dutifully goes into the office every day and waits for her boss to call. Montalbano scents a scam, but where is the scammer - and where is the money?

There's no painstakingly dull forensic work here - no bodies even make an appearance until around two-thirds of the way through the book. But there are lots of gargantuan Sicilian meals and plenty of outrageous behaviour. And, ultimately, a thoroughly satisfying and even moving conclusion.

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