Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri

Title: The Smell of the Night
Author: Andrea Camilleri
Translator: Stephen Sartarelli
ISBN: 9780143036203, Penguin Books, 2005
Genre: Police Procedural, #6 Inspector Montalbano mystery
Rating: B+

First Line: The shutter outside the wide-open window slammed so hard against the wall that it sounded like a gunshot.

When Emanuele Gargano, owner of King Midas Associates, disappears after bilking millions of lire from people in a pyramid scheme, it's up to Inspector Salvo Montalbano to get to the bottom of it all. As with most of the books in this delightful series, the fun is in tagging along with the inspector while he uses both official and unofficial channels to test his theories. In between lavish meals at home and in local Sicilian restaurants, Montalbano thinks nothing of thumbing his nose at his superiors, badgering his own officers, and wheedling information from any promising source.

After momentarily getting off on the wrong foot when reading the first book in the series, I've grown to appreciate and to enjoy this wily inspector who has no patience for cliches or stupidity. (I've also learned not to read any of these books when I'm hungry!)

Normally I don't go out of my way to mention translators unless something strikes me as being awkward or not quite right, but in this case I have to mention Stephen Sartarelli. Somehow, some way, he manages to translate colloquial Sicilian into excellent English prose-- while still retaining a feel for the original idiom. That cannot be easy, but he certainly makes it seem as if it is.

Wonderful characterizations, a very strong sense of place, mouth-watering meals for foodies, sly humor and perfectly paced plots have made this series one that I highly recommend to anyone looking for an excellent mystery series to read.

[Source: Purchased from Barnes and Noble.]


  1. This sounds like it would be worth reading for the descriptions of the lavish meals alone!

  2. This is one of my favorite series, along with Donna Leon's fabulous "Commissario Brunetti" series set in Venice.

    I have listened to more of the Camilleri's than I've read in print, and must add to your comment about the translator. The translation is excellent, and it takes a great narrator to bring that translation to life in an audio book. Stephen Sartarelli does a great job of varying voices and accents and really gives the listener a sense of being there. I haven't read this one yet, so I'll be on the lookout.

  3. I like the sound of the lavish meals and the wily inspector.

  4. Kathy-- But if you read it only for the food, you'd miss soooo much! LOL

    Tina-- It's very good to know that he does an excellent job of narration as well. What a talented man!

    Harvee-- The wily inspector is one of my favorites!


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