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67 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benissimo
Another witty and entertaining ramble with Inspector Salvo Montalbano through the criminal peccadilloes and charms of Sicily. "The Potter's Field" provides a clever mystery plot, terrific characters and a continuing insightful look at Sicilian culture and society, which only nominally resembles its Italian counterparts (according to author Andrea Camilleri, at...
Published on 3 Oct 2011 by Blue in Washington

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a vintage book
Always enjoyable to meet Salvo Montalbano again. Not perhaps a vintage book, but with all the usual ingredients - a foxy lady, a secret meeting with a mafia boss and his obsequious lawyer, a spat with a journalist and a labyrinth of a plot, which baffled this reader at times. There's an interesting development with Mimi, which threatens to destroy the special...
Published on 10 Jun 2012 by Mrs. V. O. Hanlon


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67 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benissimo, 3 Oct 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Potter's Field (Paperback)
Another witty and entertaining ramble with Inspector Salvo Montalbano through the criminal peccadilloes and charms of Sicily. "The Potter's Field" provides a clever mystery plot, terrific characters and a continuing insightful look at Sicilian culture and society, which only nominally resembles its Italian counterparts (according to author Andrea Camilleri, at least).

In "The Potter's Field", Inspector Montalbano faces a murder case that begins with the discovery of a chopped up body in a bag; a mini-rebellion and malaise at his police station; and the daily personal struggles with the human aging process. The strongest part of this fine crime novel is, as always with author Camilleri, the interplay of the wonderfully colorful characters. There are times when you can imagine Fellini orchestrating this rich mix. The procedural element of the story is relatively transparent, but Montalbano's deductions and moves toward solving the central crime of the book are not, and therefore the book's conclusion(s)--to the reader's pleasure--is invisible until the last few pages.

This book has it all--an intelligent and engrossing plot, great characters and entertaining cultural notes (Montalbano is a gourmand whose many encounters with Sicilian cuisine are recorded by the author in minute detail). Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully funy, 30 April 2012
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This is the thirteenth in Camilleri's Montalbano series. It's also the best. Not because the plot is notably better than the others but because Camilleri has ramped up his use of scathing dry humour. A notable example is Montalbano's rant at the Commissioner when be utters a statement crafted almost entirely from the titles of Dostoyevsky novels. 'Had the Commissioner noticed? Of course not! The man was ignorant as a goat'.

It's clear that during the writing of this book, Camilleri's mood alternated between productive days (when he moves the plot forward) and witty days when he focuses on crafting sharp dialogue and dry one-liners. At times (particularly the first few pages of Chapter 5), the narrative is painfully funny and I was tempted to award a spiteful single star because I'd been laughing so much that it was beginning to hurt.

Camilleri brings a warts-and-all Sicily to vibrant, colourful and fragrant life in much the same way that James Lee Burke achieves for southern Louisiana. It's therefore a source of dismay that, unlike Burke, Camilleri chooses to adopt largely fictitious place names. This deprives the reader the opportunity of enjoying a memorable week retracing Montalbano's footsteps. The Author's concluding note contains the depressing phrase 'As is obvious, the names of .... streets, hotels etc are entirely fictitious and make no reference to reality'. What a shame.

But read the book anyway. It's a treat.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Are Friends For? A Vivid, Intense, Humorous, Tricky, and Delightful Police Procedural, 13 Nov 2011
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Potter's Field (Paperback)
And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
'Let his dwelling place be desolate,
And let no one live in it';
and,
'Let another take his office.'"
-- Acts 1:19-20 (NKJV)

It's hard to know what to praise more: the engaging story by Andrea Camilleri or the superb translation by Stephen Sartarelli. Since I can't read Italian, I'll just split the difference in sharing with you that The Potter's Field is a terrific book. If you like police procedurals, The Potter's Field is an exceptionally fine example.

The plot, while impressive in its complications, takes back seat to the marvelous character development in the book focused on Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his friend and subordinate, Inspector Mimi Augello.

Mimi is grumpy all the time . . . and seems to be blaming Montalbano for whatever the cause is. Mimi's behavior is also uncharacteristic. What could be the problem?

As in all of the best Montalbano stories, the inspector relies more on careful thinking than on fieldwork or crime scene investigations. He even draws on analysis of his own dreams to figure out what's really going on. As such, Montalbano is more in the grand tradition of Nero Wolfe than the 86th Precinct.

Before long, Montalbano understands what's probably going on and realizes that he has a problem: Mimi is in a delicate position from which only Montalbano can extract him. How will looking out for a friend work with trying to locate a murderer?

Andrea Camilleri rewards his readers with lots of humorous scenes, ironically funny references, and just-plain slapstick. There's also some vivid writing about the power of a woman's presence on a man.

I particularly liked the overall tone of grumpy good humor that pervades the writing. It's upbeat . . . even when the plot heads downbeat.

The initial mystery threads seem more scattered and complex to relate to one another than usual. But it all fits together as precisely as a laser might work on illuminating a visual image.

Bravo!
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montalbano's World, 9 Oct 2011
By 
P. Webster "Phil W." (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Potter's Field (Paperback)
This is the thirteenth of Andrea Camilleri's Italian detective stories to be translated into English, and it is Camilleri at his best. I had finished the book two and a half days after it popped through my letter box. (Apologies: most of this review is an amended version of one I did of an earlier book in the series.)

When I discovered Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano stories, I felt as though I'd stumbled across a gold mine. I'm hard to please when it comes to fictional detectives, but for me these books are up there alongside such greats as Raymond Chandler's first four novels, Dashiel Hammett's "The Dain Curse", the TV version of "Inspector Morse" and Jeremy Brett's first few TV series as Sherlock Holmes.

Camilleri thankfully does not rely on the currently predominant crime story formula of shock, gore and serial killers. (Although this one does start with the discovery of a chopped-up body!) Instead, all the Montalbano stories, including this excellent one, are characterised by three main elements, in addition to the obviously requisite page-turning plots.

Firstly, there is the character of our flawed hero Montalbano himself: selfish and odd, but endearing and amusing. Here is a man who will avoid meeting his girlfriend so that he can savour a good meal in his favourite restaurant without having to talk to anyone. Of course every writer tries to create a detective who is in some way "different" or quirky, or has an interesting relationship with his sidekick, but the Montalbano creation really works and is very refreshing.

Secondly there is the humour, often of the laugh-out-loud variety. There are grim moments in these murder stories, of course, but the prevailing tone is amusing. Much of the humour involves Montalbano's personality and his interactions with the other characters. But there are also comic gems such as Officer Catarella with his linguistic difficulties. My first reaction to this was negative: I thought that the translator, Stephen Sartarelli, was making this character (and several others) speak in the sort of corny, stereotyped language that writers have often condescendingly put into the mouths of working class characters. But then I realised that this was mainly the way that Sartarelli was tackling the difficult problem of translating the Sicilian dialect that features prominently in the original Italian novels. I also soon realised that Catarella's linguistic confusion is actually very funny. (It's a pity that Catarella does not appear in the very first story, "The Shape of Water".)

The third element that I like about these books is Camilleri's left wing politics. There are sideswipes at Berlusconi and plenty of references to the links between the Mafia, big business and corrupt politicians and police officers. One book, "Rounding the Mark", starts off with Montalbano considering resignation from the police force because he is disgusted at the (real life) police brutality directed against protesters at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. (Incidentally, points such as this are usefully explained in the notes provided by the translator.)

There is only one thing that for me slightly spoils three of the books in the series (but not this one). In "The Track of Sand" there is a brief episode where Montalbano seems to be living out events that he has previously experienced in a premonition-type dream. Similarly, in "August Heat" we have an incident involving telepathy between twins, and in "The Scent of the Night" there is a surreal episode in which Montalbano finds himself living out scenes from a novel he has previously read. The Montalbano stories are generally very down-to-earth, and I can't understand why Camilleri has slipped these brief paranormal episodes into three of the books.

Overall though, I strongly recommend this book, and indeed the whole series. It's been said that the great thing about Raymond Chandler's novels is that they take you into the world inhabited by Philip Marlowe: its places and its characters. Read these stories and enter Montalbano's world.

Incidentally, the Italian TV version of Montalbano is also very good, and it's frustrating that we have only seen two episodes on television here in Britain. (PS, February 2012. Good news: BBC 4 is showing 10 episodes.)

Phil Webster
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a vintage book, 10 Jun 2012
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Always enjoyable to meet Salvo Montalbano again. Not perhaps a vintage book, but with all the usual ingredients - a foxy lady, a secret meeting with a mafia boss and his obsequious lawyer, a spat with a journalist and a labyrinth of a plot, which baffled this reader at times. There's an interesting development with Mimi, which threatens to destroy the special relationship between him and Montalbano. Montalbano is even more of a loner than usual, with not much for the team to do. Which is a pity, as I always enjoy the "back office" part of these stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfu wonderful wonderful, 25 Jun 2012
By 
Elaine Simpson-long (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have a new upstairs neighbour and heaven knows what she must have thought the other night as I went to bed and started reading the latest Inspector Montalbano book by Camilleri, The Potter's Field. The first chapter had me weeping with laughter and in the end I just put the book down and lay in bed in hysterics. The combination of finding a body on a muddy hill, torrential rain, slippy underfoot and Catarella hurtling down the hill was just too much for my equilibrium. Put in words it does not sound funny, you have to read it and you have to know and love these books and, if you do, you will totally understand.

The body found in the Potter's Field bears all the hallmarks of a Mafia style killing, but nobody can identify the victim, who has been hacked into 30 pieces. While working on this mysterious case, Salvo has to deal with the irrational behaviour of his colleague Mimi, who is exhibiting signs of slipping back into his philandering ways despite having a wife and a young son. It seems he has fallen prey to Dolores Alfano, a stunningly beautiful and sexy woman, who enchants and enslaves all the men she meets - she makes Montalbano feel a tad frazzled himself when she comes in to report her husband missing. No prizes for guessing what has happened to him....

A complicated and intricate puzzle solved by the wonderful Montelbano with wit and humour along the way and, naturally, the consumption of marvellously described food. I simply adore these books - I was not sure about them when I first started reading them but now I wish Andrea Camilleri a long and healthy life so that he can continue to keep me enchanted with Salvo and his colleagues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to his best, 7 July 2012
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J. Hood (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I'd been getting a little disappointed with the series, mainly because there were too many similarities between the books, not just the Montalbano's predictable relationship with Livia, but the parade of stock characters to provide the local colour and contrast with the almost obligatory string of predatory females, often from 'outside'. But The Potter's Field (interesting but irrelevant coincidence that there is a detective novel of the same name for Ellis Peter's clerical sleuth Cadfael) showed Camilleri at his best, and I couldn't put this book down in my anxiety to find out how Montalbano would sort out a very messy situation to the satisfaction of all concerned other than the murderer. Yes, the usual ingredients for which I read Montalbano were all in place, but what makes this book is the unexpected complication of the investigation by - let's say 'a friend' to avoid spoiling the story - and Montalbano's determination to save the skin of someone he feels has betrayed him, without that person ever knowing that he had - to use his own image - been pulling strings. It is the long-standing human relationships that make this book, the best of which is that between Fazio and Montalbano. I love Fazio's behaviour when Montalbano takes him to interview Dolores. I still think the Polizia have made a serious mistake in not promoting Fazio, who is not just sharp but utterly honest and on whom Montalbano can rely without any hesitation.
One delightful little self-referential joke on the part of the author is to have Montalbano reading a book by...Andrea Camilleri.
One gripe I have about the series in general is the number of times things are explained, which the reader knows from previous books, such as Tommaseo's lecherous touching of women witnesses, the mutual dislike between Arqua and Monstalbano or the fact that Dr Lattes is called Café Lattes because of his cloying manner. Tricky this, because not everyone starts with the first book in the series. In this respect that book is better than this because we meet a lot of new characters involved in the upholding of the law,most of them from outside Vigata.
For me, this book is up there with Rounding the Mark.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salvo vs Mimi, 2 July 2012
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
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This is the thirteenth in the ongoing series of books about the band of squabbling cops based around epicurian lone wolf Inspector Salvatore `Salvo` Montalbano. The great joy of it is that it happens to be one of the best. Not only is the plot a good one - though Camilleri`s plots tend to be something on which to hang more interesting matters, such as Salvo`s culinary ecstasies, his appreciation of women, or the idiosyncrasies of his fellow officers - but it`s one of the longer novels in the series, so allowing the happy reader even more time in the company of these compelling, mercurial characters.
The story involves a body discovered in a cave in the place of the title (the term `potter`s field` having two meanings here) and an electrically sexy Colombian woman who sets the pulses racing of all with whom she comes into contact, Montalbano being one who has to steel himself to resist her blandishments.
Speaking of sexy foreign women, it`s always a good day when his Swedish friend Ingrid makes an appearance, and she does a little more than that in this book, which will delight long-time followers of this unique series such as myself.
Salvo`s impetuous, suspicious girlfriend Livia has a few scenes too, mostly, as usual, at the end of a phone. Ah, Livia. We couldn`t live with you, but neither would we wish to be without you.
Salvo`s second-in-command `Mimi` Augello is a strong part of the tale this time, behaving in a very strange, almost abusive manner. All is of course revealed, but not before Salvo has set up one of his tortuous plot-threads, saving more than one skin in the process.
One of the glories of the series has been its humour, often (as in, for example, The Terracotta Dog, the second book and one of the best) going up a gear into farce as Salvo and his men behave more like the Keystone Cops than a trained bunch of Sicilian policemen. The first few chapters of this one are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, with Catarella`s mangled way with words unsurprisingly a highlight.
A word of praise for the translations of all the Montalbano books, by Stephen Sartarelli. They are, quite simply, brilliant. He manages to credibly reproduce not only slang but the semi-articulate malapropisms of Catarella, which would test any translator. He deserves an award, which I hope he gets.
This book was written when Camilleri was 82. He is now 86. Quite a feat. Happily, there are at least six more of the series already in the can. I can`t wait.
These books have given me more unadulterated pleasure than any other crime novels of recent years. The TV series was superb too, so much so that I now see those faces when I read the books, which I don`t mind at all (especially in the case of Ingrid and Livia!) as they were all so well cast.
Great characters, a great series - and this is one of the best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great series, 16 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Potter's Field: The Inspector Montalbano Mysteries - Book 13 (Kindle Edition)
That man Inspector Montalbano! Great fun to read, underlined by serious political events. Puzzles to solve, great characters and unusual endings. I've read all of this series, one after the other, and this last has left me wishing there were 20 more. TV series is good fun, but the books are even better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great! Montalbano strikes again, 3 Jun 2012
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This review is from: The Potter's Field: The Inspector Montalbano Mysteries - Book 13 (Kindle Edition)
How can people watch Montalbano on TV when they can get the real thing in an easy-to-digest form on their Kindle? As with so much detective fiction, the characters take centre stage rather than the crime. Salvo is feeling his age and the character - and the food - are even more delicious! Anyone new to this series needs to start at the beginning and they will fall in live with the town and Salvo's sidekicks. Enjoy!
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