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on 16 June 2017
Camilleri's beautifully crafted stories about Inspector Montalbano are a joy to read. I have yet to read one which I consider poor, but some are definitely more enjoyable than others. In my opinion 'The Potter's Field' is one of his best. Montalbano not only has a complicated case to unravel (the reasons behind the death of an unidentified man, whose dismembered body has been cut into 30 different pieces) but he is also struggling to understand why his deputy, Mimi, is behaving in a strange, hostile manner. As he gradually understands the case he realises he must think carefully how to both bring it to a satisfactory conclusion and leave his relationship with Mimi intact.
'The Potter's Field' is pitch perfect - even Montalbano's relationship with his long-suffering girlfriend Livia seems to be going well for a change (he visits her twice during the course of the investigation). If you've not previously read any of these stories, it's not essential that you read them in order, so why not give this one a try?
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on 30 April 2012
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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on 7 July 2012
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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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2014
All of the books in this marvelous detective series are very good: this is no exception, but the author has managed to throw in a few surprises. When the chopped up body of an unidentifed man is found in a potters field it has all of the hallmarks of a mafia killing and no-one seems much concerned with looking further. But there is the hassle of finding the identity of the murdered man and sorting out the team that seems to have fallen into a bit of a decline with Montalbano looking ahead to retirement, Mimi Augello off on a affair of the heart, which is destroying him and the rest working under a cloud of despair. Somehow, Montalbano is going to have to get his head together and pull the team back from the brink - but with a bit of underhand dealings, just so as not to offend his friend Mimi or his wife, or Livia, for that matter and the main burdon must fall on the faithful Fazio. Well paced, but not fast, our inspector gradually pulls all of the pieces together. An excellent read.
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on 7 December 2017
This is the first Inspector Montalbano mystery I have read & it is captivating. The suspense, thrill of the chase, plenty of twists..all mixed in with the often humorous antics of the ageing inspector. Bought this as a holiday read for a trip to Sicily, it set the scene perfectly & it'll be the first of many Andrea Camilleri mysteries I hope to read in the future!
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on 21 February 2013
If you like Montalbano, then you will love this book. How does an author like Camilleri at the age of nearly ninety keep writing these intriguing stories, so full of a sense of place and the atmosphere of the darker side of Sicily as well as its brilliant blue skies and seas? If anything, Camilleri's plots are getting more intriguing as time goes by. The character of Montalbano, who is accompanied throughout the novels by his superb depiction of his fellow detectives, is unforgettable - as is the accident prone, uniformed officer, Catarella, who regularly fails to convey important messages to his chief and whose quirky pronunciation of people's names always inspires a grin. My fifth star, however, has to be reserved for the TV film interpretation of the Montalbano stories - often shown on BBC Four. Even the author is reputed to have said that he prefers the TV version of his stories.
R.Walmsley (Author of "Dancing to the Pizzica" etc)
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on 8 December 2012
The perfect antidote to cold winter days and long December nights. This is now the 13th in this wonderful series set in Sicily and Camilleri writes in a relaxed and entertaining fashion that means these familiar characters are lifted from the pages with ease and for the reader's total enjoyment.

A crime mystery with complex human interactions, where the solution is not always evident and brilliant detective work is needed to find the solution. For further inspiration our police officer Inspector Montalbano turns to a book about the passion of Christ written by Andrea Camilleri and this comic twist is typical of the clever storytelling.

Montalbano is feeling his age; this regular swimmer nearly drowns but he is never far from the truth or reading people. We fear the day he will retire and we long for the books to be translated promptly into English, meanwhile we trust this wonderful author will weave his magic for many years to come.
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on 22 June 2016
This has one of the more complex crime plots in this wonderful series, and one which carries an emotional weight for Montalbano. Camilleri's light touch is very prominent as he deals with the potent theme of betrayal in various senses without losing his skill for farce - another superb entry in this series which showcases Camilleri's unique brand of tragi-comedy.
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on 21 January 2018
I love this series the only reason for me givthe 3 stars is the ongoing Montalbano love interest Livia it's predictably tedious and the only strand of the story that is unconvincing and boring. I think in reality this would be resolved by now. I loved the mention of the author name and books in the story it's cheeky and witty and clever. I shall continue to read and enjoy and continue to be irrated and bored with the girlfriend....
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on 24 March 2017
The Inspector Montalbano franchise is good to read and set on the lovely island of Sicily. Interesting characters and the Inspectors menu choices make my mouth water, every time. Read in order of publication to fully enjoy the character development.
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