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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 May 2017
Oh, what an unadulterated interlude The Voice of the Violin proved to be! Serving as my introduction to the highly acclaimed Inspector Salvo Montalbano series, I had been under the illusion that these novels would be rather dry affairs, perhaps because of the glimpses I have caught of the TV adaptations. It took a recommendation for me to take the plunge, see the error of my ways and be utterly beguiled by the charming, witty and colourful characters who fill the world of Camilleri. On occasions stopping just short of farce, The Voice of the Violin proved to be a hilarious crime caper. It only took two chapters for me to feel like I was amongst friends, instantly at home in Vigàta, Sicily and watching the fractious and frequently obnoxious Inspector Montalbano deftly navigating his way through the murky world of Italian bureaucracy, politics and criminal movers and shakers. Relying on a combination of his wits, humour, honesty, frequently unorthodox methods and a quid pro quo philosophy, Montalbano is a comic gem!

Waking up to grey skies at his home in Marinella and remembering the telephone call of the previous night from the intellectually challenged and frankly incoherent Catarella (Cat), sees irascible Montalbano start the day with an ominous feeling in the pit of his stomach. Cat ("Izzatchoo oona line?") has been assigned to answering the station's phone in the mistaken belief that he can do less damage in that role than any other. However it hasn't stopped him forgetting to inform his boss of a funeral that he must attend the very next morning. Arriving to transport him is the stations official driver, Gallo, and something off a boy racer which explains his prang with a bottle-green Renault Twingo on the outward journey. Despite other unforeseen events meaning that Montalbano misses the funeral, when he returns he notices the note attached to Twingo has not been removed and there is no sign of activity in the only house to which it seemingly belongs. His interest aroused, Montalbano pays a unofficial visit in the manner of a common thief later that evening only to discover the naked body of a murdered young woman, but how is he to bring this to police attention? The obvious answer seems to be through his friendship with mother figure, Signora Clementine Vasile Cozzo and her anonymous tip-offs! The chance to listen to the reclusive violin maestro Cataldo Barbera playing his weekly recital is merely a by-product of his visit to the remarkably astute elderly lady.

This is just the start of a encounter which sees the woman identified as Mrs Michela Licalzi, the gorgeous and much younger wife of an eminent orthopaedic surgeon. Some digging and fraternising with a close friend of Michela's, in the form of enigmatic Anna Tropeano, sees Montalbano uncover an antiques-dealing lover in Bologna and a besotted mentally disturbed local man, Maurizio Di Blasi. Internal politics and the animosity of the new Commissioner Bonetti-Alderighi sees Montalbano replaced on the investigation by the Captain of the Flying Squad, whereby a quick and murky conclusion leaves a bad taste and sees Montalbano pursue his own below the radar investigation. Leaning on friends, including journalist and television news anchorman, Nicolò Zito, calling in favours and employing devious methods sees Montalbano live to fight another day and come up smelling of roses. The very best position is watching from the sidelines as he does so!

One mistake after another seems to sum this case up, but in the matter of his love life with the tempestuous Livia, will Salvo Montalbano do the honourable thing? The flawless translation courtesy of Stephen Sartarelli ensured every iota of character, wit and warmth was conveyed through the pages.

Whilst I am normally pretty indifferent to adhering to the order of a series other readers have suggested that life in Vigàta does benefit from doing so, hence after being utterly charmed by my first encounter I have subsequently ordered books one to ten!

Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
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on 4 January 2010
I have now read the first four books in the Inspector Montalbano series and, like the first three, 'The Voice of the Violin' was music to my ears. The hero is a very likeable character although he does have a mean streak when he's in a grumpy mood or someone upsets him, which happens regularly. His appetite for food is remarkable (coral sauce made of langoustine roe and sea-urchin pulp! Baby Squid!)and he seems to spend most of the book eating, preparing to eat, or recovering after eating. The other characters are well presented and the plot flows along pretty well. I have been a bit critical giving four stars but the minor sub plot regarding Montalbano, his absentee girlfriend, and the young boy they planned to adopt, is a bit confusing if you haven't read 'The Snack Thief'. And the Inspector's flash of inspiration towards the end of the book (the voice of the violin) seemed a bit thin. Perhaps it's just me. I like the way the traslator, Stephen Sartarelli, includes some explanatory notes at the end of the book. I often wish the authors of Hollywood detective stories would do the same. If you aren't a vegetarian, and don't mind the occasional rude word, you will enjoy this novel.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 December 2013
In the fourth of the wonderful Montalbano series our very cool inspector finds the dead body of a beautiful woman, gets too close to a witness, and untangles a mafiosa trap...

I love this series! Camilleri writes with a superb light touch and never has to spell out the implications of his story, or bog it down in unnecessary detail. He is, though, tellingly observant, and manages to encompass the comic and tragic with nuanced ease.

At the heart of the series is Salvo Montalbano: brusque, brooding, never completely aware of his effect on women, obsessed with good food and master of the dead-pan rejoinder.

The plot here isn't quite as involving as the earlier books, but Camilleri writes with such ease, such assurance, and handles his characters so well that I'm happy to forgive him.

If you haven't discovered this series yet then do start at the beginning - this is cool, characterful, very funny in parts, and yet never erases the shades of corruption and death.
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2015
As with all novels in this series this paints Sicily in such glowing colours the reader can't wait to visit [this reader went there last year and the Island more than lived up to expectations!]. The story is not too different from all the stories in this series - lots of descriptions of good food, lovable characters - all of whom are 'good' and horrified by the corruption in present day Italy. fjs.
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on 18 October 2014
Tried to give 5 stars but the Kindle wouldn't respond! Nevertheless I loved this tale but I hope Salvo will make an honest woman of Lucia soon!! My only disappointment is that there was little description of Sicilian scenery on this occasion
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on 22 May 2017
Another superb story, how I wish I lived in Sicily!
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on 19 January 2016
Love this book love the writer PLS write some more of these books
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on 24 July 2015
Before visiting Sicily I am treating myself to Montalbano's exploits. They are completely unputdownable! Four days, four novels! Truly brilliant.
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on 16 October 2013
I just love these books. An easy read that keeps you amused and intrigued. If you watch the TV series - the book is better because you get to read about the internal thoughts/dilemmas of Montalbano
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on 13 September 2006
When the police car of Inspector Montalbano hits a small car parked at an apparently deserted country home, the inspector has a gut feeling that something is wrong. He finds the body of a beautiful woman, strangled in her bedroom. After a short while it turns out that the woman has numerous acquaintances in the area and that there are a fair number of suspects. The investigation is not made any easier by the fact that Montalbano's superiors are not exactly supporting him, even though his own team is squarely behind him. A combination of good policework and flashes of brilliance in the end solves the crime. In the meantime Montalbano also has to sort out the mess that he is making of his private life. And that is the nice thing about this series: it is the combination of police work and private hassles, that make Montalbano into more than your average, typical policeman-from-a-novel, but rather a real character with his good and his bad sides.
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