Thursday, March 25, 2021

A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri

First Line: He woke up at exactly six-thirty a.m., rested, fresh, and perfectly lucid.
A robbery at a local supermarket is a standard case for the police... or is it? When the manager is later found hanging in his office, Inspector Montalbano and his team have their doubts. 

They soon have a second case on their hands when the body of a brutally murdered young woman is found in the apartment of a rich young man who has a flawless alibi and whose father is the president of the province.
As they begin to investigate, the supermarket robbery leads to a large local company, and as the pieces come together, Montalbano is going to need every ounce of knowledge and skill he possesses because justice will be coming face to face with the insatiable machinery of politics and the mafia.
When I need a little break from the normal ebb and flow of crime fiction, I know I can always turn to the irascible Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his team. Not only do I get to enjoy a mental vacation in Sicily with its memorable landscape and mouth-watering food, but I also learn about the area's political machinations. That I also get to laugh is mere icing on the cake.
I love watching Montalbano put the pieces of a puzzle together. In some ways, he reminds me of Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police because he knows the local people he serves so well. It also doesn't hurt that Montalbano's knowledge of the mafia and local politics is encyclopedic.
In each book, the grumpy crime-solving maestro usually has something to say about the world at large with which I find myself in total agreement. In A Voice in the Night, it's an observation about intolerance: "Why so much mutual intolerance? Why was it that nobody could any longer stand his neighbor, his coworker, or even his schoolmate?" It certainly does seem to be that way, doesn't it?
Two more things that I love about this book and the entire series are Stephen Sartarelli's wonderful translations and Camilleri's sense of humor. Montalbano may be grumpy and have a short fuse, but Camilleri knows how to make us laugh about it. This time around, Montalbano starts having trouble remembering names which makes him worry that he's turning into Catarella. Long-time fans of the series love Catarella, who's usually the butt of jokes. But  Camilleri has waved his magic wand over this character and made him someone who's not just the source of laughs but also someone who does have special talents and can even make us cry from time to time. A Montalbano book without Catarella is a book without its zest.
If you love learning about other countries, their landscapes, their culture, their food, and how things work, by all means, make your acquaintance with Salvo Montalbano and his team. You'll find yourself laughing and learning through the entire series. I'm looking forward to the next time I visit the inspector.    
A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri
Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli.
ISBN: 9780143126447
Penguin © 2016
Paperback, 288 pages
Policed Procedural, #20 Inspector Montalbano mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Paperback Swap


  1. I'm so glad you mentioned Sarterelli's translation, Cathy. He does such a fabulous job, I think, and that's got a lot to do with how enjoyable these books are to those of us who don't speak any of the various dialects of Italian. It's always a treat to read a Montalbano mystery, isn't it? On top of everything else, there's that wonderful food...

    1. You said it, Margot-- reading a Montalbano mystery is a treat!

  2. Can't think of a better recommendation that "laughing and learning"! I'm going to give this author a try!

  3. Thanks for the review. Nice read.

  4. Thanks Cathy for sharing this author. I'm interested, but am curious if you need to read them in order? I noticed the TV-Series Detective Montalbano is offered via my library service Hoopla. They offer 2 seasons of young Montalbano, prequel to the Detective Montalbano series. All tolled 40 episodes. Have you or others seen the TV series?

    Thanks, and glad you're feeling better these days Cathy.

    1. Ev, I haven't seen the TV series. Is it subtitled? (I can't read subtitles, knitting patterns, and knit at the same time.)

      As for the books... I read them in order, and although they can be read as standalones, as you read, you become more acquainted with the characters' individual quirks. The characters are really what make this series so special.

  5. I'll have to tell my wife about these, Cathy. She's a second-generation American who's family on both sides came over from Sicily about the same time and knew each other well before moving to Texas in the early 1900s. I think she'll get a kick out of them.

  6. I've read so many of these books that I forgot that I read this one. Yes, always can count on Montalbano for some fun with high-jinks involved. And, true, a Montalbano book without Catarella is like an apple tree without the apples, Italy without pasta, or a candy bar without chocolate. Sacrilege.


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