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Andrea Camilleri - The Patience of the Spider,
This review is from: The Patience of the Spider (Montalbano 8) (Hardcover)
The Patience of the Spider opens as Inspector Salvo Montalbano is recovering from injuries sustained in his previous adventure, the brilliant Rounding the Mark. Indeed, this novel opens a matter of hours afterwards as Salvo, recuperates under the ministrations of his partner Livia and undergoes flashbacks to time in hospital. That is all cut abruptly short, though, when a local girl is kidnapped and Salvo is called on to the case, though only on the sidelines, not as the investigator in charge. The kidnapping is a real puzzle: it's well-known that the girl's family cannot possibly pay the ransom, and the behaviour of the kidnappers makes little sense to Montalbano. However, with a bit of dogged investigation and after a few revealing discoveries, he eventually gets to the truth...
The Patience of the Spider is not the best Montalbano by quite a long shot. However, that is saying little, as it's still a hugely entertaining, amusing read. Montalbano himself is on fine crotchety, manipulative, intuitively brilliant form. The writing is as funny and lightly sarcastic as ever also. However, the plot here has a lot less meat on its bones than previous outings. Indeed, there's little more to the book than then simple synopsis presented above. It's direct and focused, but it feels thin and underdeveloped. And not only that, but it's quite obvious what's going on from about halfway through the book, and the reader is rather surprised that Montalbano doesn't cotton on to what's going on immediately. It's enjoyable, yes, but would be served well by bring a bit more complex.
That said, however, it says a lot about the qualities of Camilleri's hugely enjoyable writing style (it's full of sly fun and reads immensely quickly - possibly thanks to the simplicity of the plot!) that the book is still 100% worth reading. Even with the mystery so easy to puzzle out (and Camilleri himself seems to subconsciously agree on this point, giving as he does only two pages to solve it in), the book is still a fun treat to read. I recommend it, as I do all his books, but it's not the most well-rounded of the series, and certainly is a pale sister compared to the brilliance of last year's Rounding the Mark.