Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pass through an airport or train station in Italy and you’re virtually certain to spot people devouring the latest Inspector Montalbano mystery by Andrea Camilleri. His Montalbano is a Sicilian cop, based in a fictional town called Vigata, and his five previous books about him (THE TERRA COTTA DOG is one of my favorites) are full of surprisingly fresh insights into the workings of the Mafia, beautifully-observed details of local life and scenery, and heart-stopping scenes of cooking and eating. Camilleri’s latest – as usual, translated by the poet Stephen Sartarelli, who catches the local dialect with subtle delight – is the gripping story of an investment counselor who seems to have disappeared (perhaps with help from local mobsters) with tons of money from his retired clients.