A woman in the shape of a monster

The Terra-Cotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli Bodies pile up fast and easy in Andrea Camilleri's The Terra Cotta Dog but I understand why readers would consider the series to be on the lighter end of the mystery spectrum, straddling the genres of cozy and the grittier police procedural. For one thing, Inspector Salvo Montalbano thinks more deeply about about literature and anchovy dishes than the criminals he has to deal with in his hometown of Vigata, a fictional town situated in Sicily. The story is also bouyed by the humor, often derived from Montalbano's filthy wisecracks at the expense of his friends and co-workers.This second installment begins with an uneasy rendezvous between the inspector and a notorious mafia operator. From there, a series of seemingly unconnected events occupy their little police station--from a baffling robbery at a supermarket, the suspicious accident of an ornery old man, to the discovery of a forgotten murder scene that dates back to Italy's Fascist period.I don't really want to reveal too much because the freewheeling narrative turns are what makes the book thoroughly engaging. Camilleri builds upon the world he has set up in The Shape of the Water and leisurely provides it with depth, notably through the reminiscence of Italy's none-too-heroic World War II experience. The gag about Montalbano's phobia towards promotion also never fails to make me chuckle and I'm more than okay with them milking it. Minor characters and their quirks shine here--most notable are the buffoonish Catarella, the ambitious Mimi, and Montalbano's long-distance long-suffering lover, Livia. The final mystery that Montalbano pursues may seem trivial for some given the amount of action present in the first half of the novel, but his obsession with the 50-year old death of two young lovers says so much about his character. He is a romantic who dons the coat of a cynic for work everyday. He is exceptional as a detective, a bloodhound through and through, yet sometimes the reader gets glimpses of a philosopher.Read on my blog.

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