This book centres on two fascinating women - the sister and the mistress of Angelo Pardo, done to death in horrible circumstances right at the beginning. The sister hates the mistress - but why? Montalbano meets both and has to be wary - Michela's eyes and Emilia's easy beauty are seductive. But his job is to discover the killer, and as usual local and national politics and the complex social fabric of Sicily are a strong element - and food too, at Enzo's wonderful trattoria. For all Montalbano's afficianados, this is really the mixture as before, which is how we like it, and it is a lovely read, full of atmosphere and interest, and with an involving plot which keeps you guessing. I don't think it's the best Montalbano mystery (though I'd find it difficult to say exactly why) but it's certainly up to scratch and will while away a few hours very enjoyably indeed.
Inspector Montalbano wakes this time not by his inner alarm clock but from one he now sets each night to wake him prompt each morning. His usual slapstick routine of starting the day had fallen by the wayside, irrelevant random thoughts had been plaguing his mind, with a touch of forgetfulness, tiredness and that feeling of age had suddenly creep upon him.
Within ten minutes of being at the station Montalbano is confronted by Signorina. Michela Pardo who cannot locate her brother Angelo, he may have been forty-two but had been missing for some forty eight hours and would always call when away. After a few questions and being won over by Michela's deep, violet lake eyes he was willing to check out her brother's apartment. Montalbano stumbles into a gruesome situation on Angelo's terrace, a man shot at point blank range in the face presented in a rather lewd position.
As things begin to unfold Angelo Pardo the victim was certainly appearing to be no saint. A former doctor struck off the Medical Association ten years earlier after indecent relations with a female patient. Montalbano also had suspicions and doubts about Angelo's job as a medical/pharmaceutical `Informer' and the wealth that seemed to go with it, not only was he lacking a bank account, the money had instead been spent on lavish expensive gifts for his mistress. Then there was Angelo's computer, three files protected by passwords and within secret codes were used! What for? Threatening letters had been found but a strongbox Angelo kept was missing. Montalbano sized up possible motives female entanglements or shady influence in the medical profession with plenty of suspects past and present to go with both, or was it something else? While Montalbano's faithful team cracked codes and follow all other leads including a political one, Montalbano on the other hand was looking for trouble and decided his line of enquiry, presence was best felt with the ladies.
Andrea Camilleri has done wonders with the character Inspector Salvo Montalbano over the years, always in hot water with female trouble, his moods dark, aging but not lacking in sophistication and charm it just melts right off the pages. In this book Montalbano wits become changellened against the leading ladies Michela Pardo and Elena Sclafani but its Montalbano inner thoughts about these two which adds to the comedy. His team follow him as he leadeth them into temptation; always using his unorthodox route to get an answer, meanwhile the description of a chaotic police station always cracks me with a smile. The whole series has a timeless feel, for any thinking of starting to read they clearly deserve to be read from the beginning.
Camilleri has written a wonderful Montalbano Mystery series, this book is the ninth in the series and again he doesn't disappoint. All Montalbano mysteries start in comedy but end in horror or melodrama but its all done with lots of human interest in every plot. This novel I found to start slower than others but it soon picked up pace and again the ending was a gem with its darker twists. What I love about this whole series would be the characterisation and language the usage of dialogue in conversation, directness, it's all been kept real with sharp dry wit and ironic comedy moments, the sly comments on Italian life and culture keeps things amusing and interesting. A big also for me is the passion for great flavoured foods, all the dishes in these books are mouth-watering and endless, described so vividly you can almost taste them.
This is also where I bring in my special thank you to poet Stephen Sartarelli who has translated each book smoothly and clearly managing to keep its humour throughout and for the informative notes given at the back on wording, I would also say notes are always advised to be read before reading the novels.
Another thoroughly enjoyable read in the series.
on 4 May 2009
A beautiful woman arrives one morning at the office of Chief Inspector Salvo Montalbano to report her brother missing. Not one to hold out against a persuasive let alone stunning beauty for too long, Montalbano eventually agrees to accompany her to her brother's apartment and look for clues as to his disappearance. What they discover opens up another can of Sicilian worms for Montalbano to disentangle.
Montalbano is his trusty self and all the gang are here, from Catarella - poissonally in poisson - to the enigmatic Adelina, whose dishes continue to appear in Salvo's refrigerator. Camilleri's stories are always a delightful mixture of banter and humour mixed with gory murder and political intrigue and this one dishes up all the usual ingredients. I found the plot a little thinner than the best and the array of beautiful women slightly Bond-like, but it's an easy, enjoyable read that keeps this excellent series alive and kicking and with more to come. Great for the beach or long waits in the airport lounge.
on 28 September 2008
Montalbano is a wonderful invention - a human being, it would be hard not to like him. He adores good food and will travel out of his way to find it. He is infuriated by and infuriates his subordinates. He sits under his favourite olive tree to think, to find a solution to some vexing question. He wrestles with his work but he loves it. I've thoroughly enjoyed all the Montalbano series. Each one is like a good meal.
As The Paper Moon opens, Salvo Montalbano, a fifty-something police Inspector in the fictional town of Vigata, Sicily, is summoned to see a distraught woman, Michaela Pardo, whose brother Angelo has unaccountably disappeared.
Salvo's search of the missing man's house soon reveals Angelo's dead body, in a provocative scene that can leave no doubt that the death is not accidental. After his initial discovery of the body, Salvo's investigation develops into a satisfying detective story in the Sherlock Holmes tradition, with the complex interplay of the Italian political culture and Sicilian organized crime providing an edgy, sharp focus.
"Mimi" Augello, Salvo's handsome but vain second-in-command, is the acceptable face of policing so far as Salvo's political superiors are concerned, and is increasingly tied up with large-scale drugs and smuggling investigations on their behalf. Mimi's gradual evolution across the series from wayward playboy to excessively dedicated parent has been amusingly touching; and the way in which Salvo uses Mimi as a front with his superiors in order to carry on unchecked his own eccentric, intuition-fuelled, erratic and emotional investigations is wonderfully wicked.
The other two main members of Salvo's team, the straight-as-an-arrow, loyal Fazio and the hilarious, linguistically challenged Catrarella, are used to good effect in this novel; the relationship between Salvo and Caterella has become more overtly affectionate as Salvo has come to appreciate Catarella's simple devotion and dedication to whatever task his master sets him.
The Paper Moon is the ninth of Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano series, translated by the poet Stephen Satarelli with his usual exceptional sympathy and erudition. Those who have read the previous eight titles will know what to expect, and will not be disappointed. To the contrary, The Paper Moon contains few, if any, of the minor weaknesses of some of the previous titles, and combines successfully the elements of a satisfying mystery, a political satire, a celebration of the traditional ways of Sicilian life (and of course food), convincing characters, and an overarching masterly yet delicate authorial touch. I loved this book. I think it is one of the very best Montalbano novels, but would slightly hesitate to recommend it to readers new to this author because a full appreciation depends on relationships and nuances that have been built up over the series.
These layerings of emotion and depth do not detract from a lean, sexy, upfront and delightfully devious plot. Unconstrained by the presence of Livia, his girlfriend -- merely a telephonic presence in this book -- Salvo follows his own path, interrogating a series of beautiful, uninhibited and fabulous women - all strong, independent and headstrong, as the mystery of Angelo's death seems to become more complex. In the end, Salvo's intuition and sheer persistence lays bare the damage done by people who are governed by their elemental emotions - a denoument reflecting the modern tragedy of a beautiful country betrayed by those who run it.
One of the great pleasures of following Andrea Camillieri’s Inspector Montalbano over the years, in addition to the quality of the writing and Stephen Sartarelli’s engaging translations, is to observe the detective aging and his changing relationships with his immediate colleagues in Vigàta.
In the ninth book in the series, published in Italian in 2005 and in English translation three years later, Montalbano is investigating the murder of a pharmaceutical representative shot in the face with his clothing in some disarray. The investigation, which assumes a sexual motive, brings the detective close to two very alluring women, the victim’s sister and his married lover, both of whom have their secrets.
Compared to many of the books in the series, this is very focused with a small number of key characters and it allows the author to draw out the many layers of these complex individuals, describe Montalbano’s attitude to them and to the other members of the investigatory team. Humour is supplied by Catarella, whose ability to mangle the language is again expertly translated by Sartarelli, and who here also shows an ability to gain access to the victim’s computer files, by the effect of fatherhood on Mimì Augello and by Judge Tommaseo’s interest in the case which is directly proportionate to its titillating detail.
Livia, the Inspector’s girlfriend, is only briefly referred to which leaves him to agonise over how close to approach the two women. His fear of ageing, worries about mental and physical deterioration and agonising over whether it is appropriate for a senior detective to take notes to remember facts will all strike chords with older readers.
The plotting is relatively straightforward and, with one or two exceptions [such as a letter that Montalbano writes to himself to summarise the developing case], the writing and dissection of contemporary Italian life and politics are as good as ever. The translator provides his usual illuminating Notes to explain cultural, political and historical references.
Thank goodness that Camillieri, approaching his 90th year, does not share his character’s existential fears of his abilities declining with age.
Highly concerned Michela Pardo reports her brother Angelo missing. He turns up dead, shot in the face amidst evidence of what seems ongoing sexual activity. Meanwhile fatalities mount from contaminated cocaine. Famous names are involved and Montalbano must tread warily....
Again there are increasingly sombre undercurrents, Montalbano musing about death and the possibility he may be losing his mind. His photographic memory remains intact, but what about his recognition of faces and ability to recall all that is said to him?
Fortunately Camilleri still interweaves the serious aspects with humour, even moments of farce. Always enjoyable is the verbal sparring, especially between the Inspector and ultra-conscientious Fazio - trading insults for both a speciality.
The case itself represents one of the lighter offerings, its solution none too challenging. Some may feel it weakened by another of those contrived go-it-alone climatic night confrontations with a prime suspect.
Although there remains much to enjoy, suspicion grows that the series may be falling into a rut, overdue for a major new ingredient to revitalize. Too much "same old" seems to be eking out the pages. (This particular story is not as long as thought, the last forty or so pages an advance glimpse of "August Heat".)
Muted pleasure on this occasion.
on 17 March 2009
This is, yet again, a brilliant success. The variety of characters makes it funny, intriguing and suprisingly human! I read it with a smile on my face.
In another excellent episode the wonderful Montalbano continues to worry about getting older while struggling with his propensity to attract dangerous women... Catarella almost has a computer-related breakdown... and Italian government bureaucracy is at its most bureaucratic.
This series considers to deliver even though this is number 8: the plot does admittedly rely on Montalbano being surprisingly obtuse (the ‘paper moon’ of the title) but that doesn’t detract at all from the sheer enjoyment of these books.
Camilleri’s real strength is in the characterfulness of these books: when crime fiction is awash with the same old tired characters/plots/moods, this series genuinely stands out: the books are sardonic, sometimes almost despairing, never shy away from tragedy and things that generate righteous anger, and yet at the same time they’re warm and full of life and laughter, a difficult balancing act that Camilleri manages with ease. It’s best to start at the beginning of the series and work your way forward – I’m rationing myself so that I don’t run out too fast.
on 6 December 2009
A fun, readable detective story I picked up. Half the interest is in the Italian crime setting, and the detective is identifiable and world-weary.
At times a little misogynistic but overall fun twists and turns... I'd read more some time.