Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars118
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 18 July 2010
In Wings of the Sphinx, Camilleri returns to the things I enjoy about the Montalbano series: the food, the Sicilian ambience and the (by now) well-known characters (Mimi, Cat and Livia), and especially of course, the irrascible Montalbano. Montalbano's reflections on the impact of the Passage of Time on his profession, on his personal relationships and on his body all ring true. The engrossing plot is a trip through Sicily to meet some of its more colorful citizens. But all this chuminess is balanced (for instance)by Camilleri's sadly all-too-true observations about the way Sicilians have thrown garbage all over the uspeakably lovely Sicilian landscape. As usual, Stephen Sartarelli's translation notes are a joy. And! Wings of the Sphinx contains an actual recipe (given to Montalbano by another character), which I immediately copied out and tried, and as they say in Brooklyn, it's so good "Your brains'll fall out." Wings of the Sphinx is delicious, too. Buy it, read it, tell your friends.
0Comment|24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 March 2010
Probably since book three, these books are not about solving mysteries, but enjoying Salvo Montalbano's look on life. He's just as cynical as Michael Dibdin's Zen or Donna Leon's Brunetti, but he has a totally different way of looking at life in Italy (well actually Sicily, which isn't truly Italian). While Zen is always looking at the dark side, and Brunetti is more philosophical in his Venetian bastion, Montalbano lives life openly an without apology.

But at 56 the Inspector is beginning to feel that the sands are running out in the hourglass (terrible cliche, but true) and he wants to have more 'substance' to his life. He may complain about Mimi constantly being away from work because of his 'little one' but in ways he is jealous of him. He knows he doesn't want to be alone at the end of his life, but he can't come to a conclusion of how to hold onto Livia without changing his lifestyle.

In the side story of a faked kidnapping, we see Salvo judging the man who ran off with his mistress for a vacation, while his wife was up in arms that the Police were doing nothing to find him. In the main story we have four Russian girls (all with sphinx moth tattoos on the left shoulder blade), who in one way or another are mixed up in something illicit due to being in love or being loved.

Montalbano, who is the only brain in the whole book, enjoys baiting his superiors, belittling his co-workers and sating his appetite as much as any glutton. Every one else in the book is there to be used by Salvo, to either perpetuate the story or give him some one to mock. But it seems that this is all becoming stale and Salvo wants more permanence in his life. One wonders if this has anything to do with the ninety year old author!

I'm looking forward to the translations of the next three books, and hopefully at some point Camilleri will retire our Inspector, so that the series will have a 'real' ending and not just an end.

Zeev Wolfe
0Comment|43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
When I first discovered the Inspector Montelbano stories I didn't much care for them but they have grown on me and now I am totally hooked.

A dead body of a young woman is found in a dump with half her face shot off. Her indentity is at first unknown but then a tattoo of a sphinx moth on her shoulder links her with three other girls bearing the same mark, all recent Russian immigrants to Italy. Montelbano solves it all in his usual cavalier style while seemingly placing the demands of his stomach above all else and trying to deal with his long term lover Livia with whom he is having difficulties. Rattling along at a great pace, lots of humour and featuring, as always, the wonderful Catarella who mangles names and numbers and forgets messages, adores Montalbano and who keeps telling him that he has a visitor 'poissenly in poisson'. Wonderful and this latest is well up to standard and kept my glooms at bay for another day.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
These books are a delight to me, in the same way that Alexander McCall Smith's No 1. Ladies Detective Agency series are. They have almost nothing to do with crime, and everything to do with the author's thorough enjoyment of the character he has created and the world that the character inhabits. If you are looking for something new in this outing for Montalbano you will be disappointed. His relationship with Livia is still desperately dysfunctional and characterised more by the time he spends apart from her than with her. He still thinks of his belly first, and what to put in it, and he is still worried about ageing.

But these are the things that make these books so beautiful. I love the fact that Montalbano is more worried about there being no fish for lunch because of rain out at sea than he is about solving the murder of the girl with the sphinx moth tattoo on her shoulder. I love the fact he is crotchety and doubtful and still full of anger and caustic wit.

Camilleri is a master of painting the nuances of Sicilian life, gently poking modern politicians with snide allusions and asides, and getting on with sharing more of Montalbano with us, his devoted readers.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 26 February 2011
THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX is an utter delight. Reading any one of this series of short books about Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his colleagues in the Vigata (Sicilian) police is a wonderful experience. The author beautifully and precisely captures the humanity and humour underlying the tragedies of modern existence - somehow the corruption, the evil, the crimes and lack of sensitivity, the political correctness and the nannyism that we all endure seem not so bad when viewed through the warm and unflinching eyes of Montalbano, a passionate barometer of conscience who is incapable of compromise with any of these unwelcome entities.
The novel starts in brisk fashion when the body of a young woman is found in a dump. She was shot in the face, so her main distinguishing mark is a tattoo on her shoulder of what everyone at first thinks is a butterfly. Nobody can work out who the woman is, and when the results of the post mortem are in, the puzzle only deepens.
In the throes of what is sometimes called a mid-life crisis and at other times the male menopause, Montalbano is brooding on what to make of his life - whether to retire, whether to marry or break up with Livia - when the body is found. Irresistibly drawn to trying to discover what happened, he uncovers a fishy-seeming organisation underwritten by the Catholic church, in which vulnerable young women, usually immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, are "rescued" from clubs and casinos and retrained as housekeepers. It seems that the victim may have been one of these women.
Montalbano's detective skills are very sharp, and he soon gets pretty much to the bottom of what is going on. One interesting aspect of the novel is that it grips without being at all about the victim and her friends, who we don't get to know - a hard trick to pull off. As usual, one of the chief delights is the context of the Sicilian lifestyle, though it has to be said that although Montalbano enjoys his food in this novel, the meals are not described with the fevered ecstasy of previous books - perhaps he really is getting a bit old and jaded.
I loved THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX and the all-too-brief journey it took me on, into Sicilian life and the strong integrity of Montalbano as he surveys his wrecked country with knowningness yet refusal to accept the status quo in his insistence on standing up for principle and truth. His relationship with his police colleagues and with Livia is not as much in the foreground here as in some of the other novels, but even so there is much going on under the surface for the reader to enjoy, and plenty of sharp humour - beautifully enabled by the brilliant translation of the poet Stephen Sartarelli.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 July 2010
Andrea Camilleri is back on form. The characters are still wonderful, although I am worried about Mimi, who now seems distinctly unhappy! Not only a good mystery but a feast for the senses in the description of Montalbano's meals.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 July 2010
Still one of the best detectives in fiction, Inspector Montalbano is getting older and aging disgracefully. Perhaps not so much a detective as a policeman philosopher who likes his food. Anyone who hasn't yet discovered the Montalbano books by Camilleri is in for a treat. For newcomers, it is probably best not to start here; begin at the beginning - and enjoy. For fans, this latest Montalbano outing will need no recommendation except to say this is Camilleri back on form.

And if you have time, please lobby BBC4 to broadcast the Montalbano series, made in Italy and sub-titled. These have been shown in Australia, so the tapes are available. We need some Sicilian sun after all that Swedish gloom of the recent excellent Willander series.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 July 2011
It's good to see Camilleri back. I have loved all the books published so far, as much for the clever and often irreverent outlook of the author as for the characters and plots. Montalbano is a wonderfully human creation: occasionally wise, sometimes stupid, often egotistical and exasperated with those around him, but always true to his own ideas. I get very tired of main characters in mysteries who are depressed, 'deeply flawed', suffering from wrecked marriages or joyless loners. Montalbano has plenty of problems, but they never seem to weigh much with him in comparison with the next meal prepared by his housekeeper, or a chance to discover a unexpected gourmet restaurant. Despite the inevitable murders and contacts with pretty unpleasant events, the books somehow stay sunny and thoroughly enjoyable reads.

In this book, he is worrying about getting old and his relationship with his distant girl-friend, Livia, is once again on very rocky ground. That's the main weakness of the book. I find it hard to see why Montalbano, who is continually presented with various golden opportunities to transfer his affections to much more attractive and intelligent women, stays with someone who seems to be at odds with him every time they interact. Still, that isn't unknown in real life, is it?

Amongst police procedurals, in which quantity (and the repetitive banality and imitation it produces), too often seems to find greater favour with publishers than quality, Camilleri's books are a rare treat. I can't wait for the next installment.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 July 2012
To date I have enjoyed all the Montalbano books I have read and enjoyed the television series. The storyline was good with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing right up until the end. However I found the translation left a lot to be desired. The translation of the characters speech was over done and difficult to follow and made the characters sound silly. Other books in this series were serious crime novels with a bit of humour in the characters. In my view the silliness in the translation particularly that of Catarella was irritating and took the edge of what was a good crime plot.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 July 2010
another splendid translation , bringing us up to 2006 in this terrific eurocrime - fest.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse