Customer Reviews


89 Reviews
5 star:
 (54)
4 star:
 (29)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Triumph!
The Terra-Cotta Dog is an extremely rewarding police procedural with deep cultural and historical roots that provide a delightful complexity for the reader. I would award this book six stars if I could.
If you have not yet read any of the Inspector Montalbano books, I suggest that you take the time to read The Shape of Water first. That book helps set up the context...
Published on 30 Jun. 2004 by Donald Mitchell

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Judgement suspended !
Having worked my way through nearly all Donna Leon's superb Commissario Brunetti series I alighted on Montalbano - another long series - hoping that here there is a replacement. I found, firstly, that the character is not very likeable! The plot also seems to jump about and it's hard to see at times any logical connection between events in the investigation as it...
Published on 30 Nov. 2012 by N. J. Hedge


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Triumph!, 30 Jun. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
The Terra-Cotta Dog is an extremely rewarding police procedural with deep cultural and historical roots that provide a delightful complexity for the reader. I would award this book six stars if I could.
If you have not yet read any of the Inspector Montalbano books, I suggest that you take the time to read The Shape of Water first. That book helps set up the context of the characters and makes The Terra-Cotta Dog far more interesting.
This book has Inspector Montalbano solving several mysteries before he is done. In a fascinating way, each mystery leads unexpectedly into the next one. And so on. It's like opening the Russian nesting dolls to find another treasure inside. I can rarely recall such fine plotting and seamless connections between disparate story elements in one police procedural.
As the book opens, Montalbano has been invited to meet secretly with a dangerous killer. Is it a trap? Why would the killer want to meet with a police inspector? The answer leads to a merry-go-round of public relations activities to cover up the real motive. Then, the charade collapses and Montalbano finds out about an unknown crime. More public relations follow . . . and from them Montalbano gets a clue to other hidden crimes. The rest of the novel reminded me of an archeologist's work in uncovering earlier civilizations that built on the same site.
The main contexts for these mysteries are the Sicilian Mafia, the Fascist era, the American invasion of Sicily during World War II, and the Christian and Moslem religions. How's that for an unusual combination?
Montalbano emerges as an even more interesting character in this book than in The Shape of Water, especially as his relationship with his girl friend Livia develops. As before, the food references are a delight and add a warm human touch to offset the evil that coils throughout the story.
As I finished the story, I was reminded how important it is to be dogged in chasing down details that don't seem to make sense. There's always an explanation for mysteries, but the explanation will never be revealed unless you follow the path to the answer wherever it takes you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great atmosphere and translation for Sicilian crime series, 26 Feb. 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite my best intentions, I have managed to read the first few books in this wonderful Sicilian police series in the wrong order. No matter (though the publishers could have helped by noting the order). In THE TERRACOTTA DOG, chronologically the second book, the hilariously linguistically challenged Catarella has been foisted on Salvo Montalbano's team of detectives by his nepotistic connections - although the baby-like, overenthusiastic man himself seems to be entirely innocent of this fact. There is also much rivalry between Salvo and his second in command Mimi Augello, and others in the team are little more than occasional players. In later books, these relationships and characters develop, providing even more depth and joy to a delightful reading paradise.
THE TERRACOTTA DOG begins with an old Mafioso, Tano the Greek (who is no more Greek than Salvo), unable to cope with the impersonal, modern criminal style, wants to retire - yet keep his face. He therefore concocts an elaborate ruse with Salvo, the kind of policeman with whom he knows he can do business, so that it appears as if he has been captured in a heroic gun battle. Things do not go entirely to plan, of course: subsequently Salvo and his men discover a hidden cache of weapons in a cave at an abandoned road construction site - and receive plenty of, in Salvo's view, not entirely properly earned glory in the process.
While all this is going on, Salvo is puzzled by the apparently nonsensical theft of goods from a local supermarket. This event leads him eventually to discover that the cave has a concealed inner chamber. In this secret place are two bodies, the titular terracotta dog, and a bowl of old coins. It is this historical mystery that occupies Salvo for the rest of the book. He becomes obsessed with finding out not only who the bodies are, but how they came to be there, and ignores his other cases even though Mimi's handling of the supermarket affair turns out to be lethal for quite a few civilians.
Although the historical mystery is diverting and the story of the young couple moving, the reason for the strange arrangement in the cave, when Salvo finally understands it, is slightly weak. But getting there is a wonderful journey, not least when Salvo meets the eccentric old academic priest Alcide Maraventano, who engages him in a discourse on reading.
Both Livia (Salvo's long-suffering, mainly absentee girlfriend) and Ingrid (a local woman who became friends with Salvo in THE SHAPE OF WATER) make welcome appearances in this book, and I'm glad to say that even a bullet in the colon does not stop Salvo's enjoyment of the most mouth-wateringly described meals it is possible to describe.
The subtle translation, by Stephen Sartarelli, does the book proud. Does the pun on the word "tenor" really work in Italian? This is just one of the many nuances that make Camilleri's perfect mix of plot, character, unsentimentality, humour and strong sense of local tradition, such a delight for the reader.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best kind of detective story, 18 May 2007
By 
hillbank68 "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is one of the best of the excellent Salvo Montalbano series by Camilleri. As usual, at the outset there are odd goings on but not necessarily crimes - a characterful old man dies in a road accident (or it seems to be an accident), there is a bizarre theft from a supermarket (it does not make sense, and Montalbano is very quick to spot that) and the terrifying Tana the Greek confides in the Inspector. But it the remarkable discovery of the secret, blocked cave, the two dead, naked lovers (are they lovers?) and the terracota dog that really set things buzzing. Throw in a defrocked priest who drinks milk out of a baby's bottle, a charming old headmaster and his wife, a hospital bedside scene in which Montalbano is anxiously guarded by his three women, Livia, Anna and Ingrid, and the usual frustrations he faces in his dealings with bureaucrats and less capable officers. As usual, there is considerable atmosphere, frequent enjoyable excursions into the world of Sicilian cooking and, this time, an intriguing link between past and present, all of which combine to make this an excellent book of its kind and great fun to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Triumph!, 21 Jun. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Terracotta Dog (Hardcover)
The Terra-Cotta Dog is an extremely rewarding police procedural with deep cultural and historical roots that provide a delightful complexity for the reader. I would award this book six stars if I could.
If you have not yet read any of the Inspector Montalbano books, I suggest that you take the time to read The Shape of Water first. That book helps set up the context of the characters and makes The Terra-Cotta Dog far more interesting.
This book has Inspector Montalbano solving several mysteries before he is done. In a fascinating way, each mystery leads unexpectedly into the next one. And so on. It's like opening the Russian nesting dolls to find another treasure inside. I can rarely recall such fine plotting and seamless connections between disparate story elements in one police procedural.
As the book opens, Montalbano has been invited to meet secretly with a dangerous killer. Is it a trap? Why would the killer want to meet with a police inspector? The answer leads to a merry-go-round of public relations activities to cover up the real motive. Then, the charade collapses and Montalbano finds out about an unknown crime. More public relations follow . . . and from them Montalbano gets a clue to other hidden crimes. The rest of the novel reminded me of an archeologist's work in uncovering earlier civilizations that built on the same site.
The main contexts for these mysteries are the Sicilian Mafia, the Fascist era, the American invasion of Sicily during World War II, and the Christian and Moslem religions. How's that for an unusual combination?
Montalbano emerges as an even more interesting character in this book than in The Shape of Water, especially as his relationship with his girl friend Livia develops. As before, the food references are a delight and add a warm human touch to offset the evil that coils throughout the story.
As I finished the story, I was reminded how important it is to be dogged in chasing down details that don't seem to make sense. There's always an explanation for mysteries, but the explanation will never be revealed unless you follow the path to the answer wherever it takes you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspector Montalbano is growing into his role, 13 Sept. 2006
By 
Linda Oskam "dutch-traveller" (Amsterdam Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One morning Inspector Montalbano gets a phone call from a criminal friend who tells him to meet "somebody". This somebody turns out to be the much wanted criminal Tano the Greek, who wants to turn himself in. He gets arrested but is murdered when transported from one prison to another. Just before he dies he tells Montalbano of a secret cave. After opening the cave where they find a considerable number of weapons, the inspector finds a second cave where he stumbles upon a gruesome, yet old scene. Together with a number of the elderly people in the village he is eventually capable of solving the crime, but at one point this nearly costs him his life.

This is the second Camilleri book that I read and I should say that Inspector Montalbano is growing in his role: he start to be an acquaintance with his good and bad habits. The Shape of Water was a low 4-stars, this one definitely is 5-stars. Reading this book is good way to spend a day off.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read, 6 July 2012
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Terracotta Dog (Hardcover)
First Sentence: To judge from the entrance the dawn was making, it promised to be a very iffy day--that is, blasts of angry sunlight one minute, fits of freezing rain the next, all of it seasoned with sudden gusts of wind--one of those days when someone who is sensitive to abrupt shifts in weather and suffers them in his blood and brain is likely to change opinion and direction continuously, like those sheets of tin, cut in the shape of banners and rooster, that spin every which way on rooftops with each new puff of wind.

I appreciate a good analogy and so enjoyed the opening paragraph of this book. Camilleri creates a very strong sense of place with his evocative descriptions.

The author has also created a strong, interesting character in Montalbano. He is a study in contrasts; calm facing a Mafia chief in a tense situation, yet goes into panic before the press; he can be quite crass, yet also very sensitive "That morning, by surprising the two kids making love, he had desecrated life; and now, by exposing the two bodies that should have remained forever unknown to the world in their embrace, he had desecrated death." He has a morbid fear of being promoted and suffers from mild synesthesia which converts smells into colors for him.

There is very good dialogue, including amusing non-sequesters, which adds realism to the story as well as retaining a sense of Italy.

The plot is intriguing and clever as it is one thread which leads to another, but it is the character of Montalbano who really kept me reading.

"The Terra-Cotta Dog" was a very enjoyable read and Camilleri and wonderful addition to my list of authors whose books are set in Italy.

THE TERRA-COTTA DOG (Pol Proc-Insp. Salvo Montalbano-Sicily-Contemp) - G+
Camilleri, Andrea - 2nd in series
Viking, 2002
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Terracotta Dog, 10 Feb. 2010
By 
G. Gott (Stratford-upon-Avon) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have enjoyed all the Inspector Montalbano books. I love the setting and the characters with their different and very human approach to policing.
The Terracotta Dog is, I think, one of the best in the series. It has plots that interweave; it grabs your interest from the start and in involving both the past and the present has an extra depth. The array of characters is fascinating and I really cared about the identity and story of the two lovers found dead in the cave after so many years.
Definitely one to read!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An intricate plot aided by wonderful characterisation, 12 Aug. 2014
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
In The Terracotta Dog, the second in Andrea Camilleri’s series about Commissario Montalbano’s team in Vigàta, Sicily, the characters that have become so familiar in successive years are encountered – at this stage Montalbano and his second-in-command, Mimi Augello, have yet to trust one another and the translator, Stephen Sartarelli, still has to find the right voice for Catarella, the switchboard operator, who has joined Montalbano's team through his family connections [Early on he asks the Inspector to recommend a specialist for a life-long condition that ‘on and off. It’s here and gone, here and gone. Gonorrhea.’ It doesn’t quite work and here he is more frustrating than comical]. As for the Inspector himself, in 1996 he is surprisingly short-tempered for character approaching his 40s.

At the beginning of the story, Montalbano is caught up in the ‘capture’ of the violent Mafioso, Tano the Greek, for whom not losing face is essential. Tano is caught after a heroic gun battle but, thereafter, events do not go according to plan. After a suspicious theft from a local supermarket, a cache of weapons in a war-time excavation is revealed and this leads to the eponymous life-size terracotta dog being found in an inner cave alongside a murdered couple.

The murders turn out to have been committed in the war and it is Montalbano’s investigation, aided by a collection of senior citizens who have wonderfully good memories and, yet again, show the author’s skill at creating characters. He ignores his other cases and Mimi's handling of the supermarket theft leads to a number of killings. Even in this very early book, Camilleri has found the balance between police procedure activities and the personal interactions between members of the police team, and their friends and acquaintances, between humour and criminality, not least when the Inspector is pressurized into media interviews and becomes a public figure.

Montalbano is officially off for part of the story, which allows him to pursue this investigation. He also has to fend of the possibility of promotion and to constantly reassure his girlfriend, Livia, who has a tendency to phone when he is on his way out and, for a time, they communicate through notes, as when she replies ‘I know the temples are splendid. Since I’ve known you I’ve been forced to see them about fifty times. You can therefore stick them, column by column, you know where. I’m going off by myself and don’t know when I’ll be back’. True, the close proximity, often very close proximity, of Ingrid the sex bomb with a serious in-law problem, and Corporal Anna Ferrera, a police colleague who would like to be something more, offers support for her distrust.

Sartarelli adds endnotes, relating to the local cuisine, historical figures and explanations of dates or political references, that have become such an integral part of the series. Camilleri’s own Author’s Note identifies the origin of the story and explains its rather convoluted historical, religious and mythical associations. The fact that these are far-fetched does not detract from the enjoyability of the story.

The story revealed about the events in Sicily during the war are particularly interesting as they lie outside the geographical regions usually covered in storybooks and article. Camilleri views these wider events through the lives and deaths of individual characters, and makes the story of the long-dead couple sympathetic without being overly-sentimental.

Although each novel in the series can be read as a stand-alone, the effectiveness of Camilleri’s writing and Sartarelli’s translation mean that much more is gained by reading them in order.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars TOLD WITH HUMOUR AND CHARM, 20 April 2014
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This part of Sicily sees no shortage of bodies: the Mafia with a power struggle between old guard and new, many scores being settled. Inspector Montalbano almost fatally gets caught up in it all. What fascinates him most this time round, though, is a love story of fifty years ago: in a concealed cave two long dead discovered embracing, with a terracotta dog seemingly keeping guard....

It is hard not to be won over by a man with his own set of priorities. Particular pleasures are simple, including daily swims and fine eating (amongst sea food delights are grilled lobster, poached baby octopus and boiled squid). Disarmingly Montalbano is not comfortable with technology, he just about able to switch on the television and change channels. His string of successes owes much to his wide range of contacts, what they have to tell him most useful as he sits and sips. Any hint of promotion he avoids like the plague. He is an out-and-about man, refusing to be tied to a desk.

The novels delight, full of wry observations from an author with tongue firmly in cheek. Especially enjoyable is the banter between Montalbano, colleagues and superiors, not to mention his subtle ways of outmanoeuvring anyone who fails to cooperate.

In an area notorious for violence, Montalbano represents an oasis of calm. Amidst so many daily challenges, one warms to a man now captivated by a mystery of half a century ago.

Like its predecessor, this novel was completed with a happy sigh - hand promptly reaching out for next in the series.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The perambulations of Inspector Montalbano, 12 Jan. 2014
I did not enjoy `The Terracotta Dog'(1996) by Andrea Camilleri as much as `The Shape of Water'(1994), its predecessor in the Inspector Montalbano series. Even so, it is a very fine book.
Let's get the shortcomings out of the way first, mainly because you may not share them. I didn't find the investigations focused enough - in this I am supported by some of the characters themselves as Montalbano has to defend himself as the `solitary hunter' from the accusation of not keeping his eye on the ball, to use an English idiom which would never occur to the likes of his critics. The novel starts with an investigation into the non-theft from Ingrassia's supermarket, swerves to find out who killed old Cavaliere Misuraca, takes in the discovery of a Mafia treasure trove and gets lost with the mystery of the two naked lovers dead in that cave. At one point Montalbano says, "I really wish I had never discovered that cave' and I agree with him! At one point I read `the meanders of the labyrinth the inspector had willingly entered led him straight into a wall'. And yet, persist because the wall itself turns out to be an intriguing climax.
Then there is too little of some of the characters who so charmed me in the earlier book - the exquisite Ingrid, the fiery Corporal Anna, the enigmatic Gege or the dependable Mimi Augelo. Individuals drift in and out of the plot such as the irritating Livia or the weird .......
Finally there is a cut in the number of gossipy interactions which so intrigued me in the earlier book. There is a delightful exploration of Sicilian culinary delights, largely supplied by Adelina, but that is no substitute. One could that too often solutions jump out from the blue but that is seen too often in detective fiction.
So what about the compensations? There's the introduction of characters such as Tano the Greek, Headmaster Burgio and the weird Alcide Maraventano. Short episodes bring to life conditions in the Arab quarter or memories of a Sicily awaiting the Allied invasion in 1943. There's the bewildering investigative odyssey starting with the discovery of a cave at Cresticeddru with its dead occupants, apparently part of a ritual burial. With the result that Montalbano becomes fixated as to why they were so buried more than who called them - after all, it WAS fifty years before so the killer's almost certainly dead.
In simple terms the book is a thoroughly good read and I'll give it four stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews