Thursday, July 12, 2012

REVIEW: The Shape of Water, by Andrea Camilleri

The Shape of Water, by Andrea Camilleri. Published 2005 by Penguin. ISBN 9780142004715

Since there aren't enough Massimo Carlotto books in English to sate my need for Mediterranean noir, and because I've become interested in the genre, I've been looking for more Italian mystery/crime writers to read, and foremost among them seems to be Mr. Andrea Camilleri, author of over a dozen books starring Inspector Salvo Montalbano, the most respected detective in the Sicilian town of Vigàta.

Like the rest of crime-fiction Italy, Vigàta is a cesspool of corruption and vice. "The Pasture," a stretch of territory given over to a seedy nightlife of prostitutes and drugs, is central to this corruption, and it's here that Silvio Lupanello is found dead, exposed with his pants around his knees. His death appears to be via natural causes, but that doesn't stop the rumor mill, and it doesn't stop Montalbano, who smells a rat.

As Montalbano digs into Lupanello's family and business dealings, he opens up the usual hornet's nest of scandal, secrets and sex. What makes this book so much fun is Montalbano, a brainy, funny, genuinely nice guy who is nonetheless fully cognizant of the dark side of humanity. Oh, and he likes a nice meal now and then, too. The solution to the puzzle was one I hadn't anticipated but it made sense and it was the kind of thing I've come to expect from reading Carlotto. That doesn't mean it was dull or predictable though! And if I didn't mention it, it's also funny.

I really enjoyed this first entry in the Montalbano series and have already purchased the second, The Terra-Cotta Dog, to read later this summer. I don't know if I'll make it to all 14 that Penguin has published but I'm definitely going to keep this series on my radar. It doesn't hurt that Penguin is publishing them in beautiful and highly-covetable paperbacks. Already when I see them at the bookstore I always take a minute to put them in correct series order so that fans like me can easily pick the next one off the shelf. If you like crime fiction, do take a look for them!

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Mystica said...

New author, series and book for me. Making a note of this one.

bermudaonion said...

I didn't know there was such a thing as Mediterranean noir. This sounds interesting. I do like that cover.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I doubt I'll ever read these. Not because they don't sound great (they do!) but because i have a hard time reading things described as noir. They tend to give me night terrors.

But, I wanted to comment on your comment about the new covers from Penguin. I love that publishers are sitting up and taking notice of good mystery and crime fiction and giving them the same treatment as their "good" fiction, with trade paperback trim sizes and nice designs.

Zibilee said...

I haven't read much in this genre, so your review was really interesting and helpful to me. I like books with genuinely nice characters who are not naive, and I will be interested in hearing what you think about The Terra-Cotta Dog. This might be a great place for me to start with this genre. Very nice review today, Marie!

Marie Cloutier said...

Emily, absolutely! Penguin did a beautiful series of James Bond books that are just awesome, and the Camilleri books are really fun & pretty, too. You can't have just one!

bookspersonally said...

This sounds like a wonderful summer read- you had me hooked at "Mediterranean" & "noir", that sounds like a marvelous combination. (And the cover reminds me of Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief, which would sell me on it in itself ;D.)

Ryan said...

Ah! This book sounds interesting but I cannot begin yet another series!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I've been so excited to read Massimo Carlotto, but my library doesn't have it yet. I wasn't in love with one of Europa Editions' other books (The Days of Abandonment), but Mr. Carlotto's novels look like something I'd enjoy. I now have to track this book and author down and put this on the list. Sounds great! I'm interested to read about the meals Salvo enjoys, too :)