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Mystery Monday Review – The Smell of the Night

The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

In Sicily, like everywhere else, people aren’t into thrift as much they hope to make a big score for an easy-going old age. And the big score is exactly what Emanuele Gargano, the self-styled wizard of finance, promises. Gargano, in his forties, tall, elegant and so handsome that he seems to have stepped out of an American movie, cultivates a reputation as a brilliant wheeler-dealer in financial matters.

After almost the entire population of the province of Montelusa has entrusted him with their nest eggs, he suddenly vanishes. Having disappeared with everybody’s life savings, the previously admired figure becomes the most hated man south of Naples. Of course, in Vigàta, too, the manure has hit the ventilating device and enraged pensioners are on the look-out for the dastardly thief and their promised returns.

Series hero (this is Book #6) Commissario Montalbano accidentally gets into a situation, whose consequences he cannot foresee at the beginning. Although a senior investigator argues that the “financial wizard” has been rubbed out by the Mafia, Montalbano believes there is more to it than a gangland killing. Although this case is not part of his job, nosy,he gets deeper and deeper into it.

Maverick Montalbano does what he wants. To say the least, the energetic and emotional inspector is idiosyncratic. He seems to hold a special position, because he opposes orders and invents excuses to get around his superiors with few consequences. In addition, one can call his methods of investigation quite unconventional.

The author skillfully combines the criminal case with a view of Sicily and its inhabitants, so that one would like to pack the suitcases straight away and head for the Med. One feels sympathy with Montalbano who mourns the island’s transformation into a concrete wasteland. The nostalgic tone will remind one of Simenon saying goodbye to his Paris in the late Maigret novels of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Camilleri writes easy, less frilly prose but in no way unimaginatively. His stories are not overloaded, getting to the point right away. Also the humor comes in welcome doses, as in the other books. But too much Montalbano in a row could be tiring, so enjoy them in widely spaced readings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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