Friday, November 16, 2012

EXCURSION TO TINDARI by Andrea Camilleri

“When you retire you could start writing novels.”

 “I would definitely write mysteries. But it’s not worth the trouble.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because certain critics and professors, or would-be critics and professors, consider mystery novels a minor genre. And, in fact, in histories of literature they’re never even mentioned.”

“What the hell do you care? Do you want to enter literary history alongside Dante and Manzoni?”

“I’d die of shame.”

“So just write them and be content with that.”


Andrea Camilleri’s Excursion to Tindari has to be one of his best Inspector Montalbano books. It is literary, funny, and well-plotted.

Montalbano and his team investigate two crimes. Someone guns down a man on the front porch of his apartment complex. Then the son of a couple from the same complex reports that they have disappeared.

The couple recently took a one-day bus tour to Tindari. They may have disappeared at one of the stops on the return trip. No one really noticed.

At the same time, a 90-year-old Mafia don in the fight of his life asks Montalbano for help.

Finally, all three threads of the story come together, and the Montalbano team solves the crime.

Montalbano uses his knowledge of writers like Asimov and Franz Kafka to help solve the crime.

I know all this seems ordinary. It is impossible to describe the complexity of the story.

Montalbano gets himself in hilarious, but sometimes potentially tragic, situations. The story has the same zany characters as always.

Camilleri fills Excursion to Tindari with descriptions of good food. He openly describes sexual matters.

Montalbano is as Sicilian as ever. At one point, a beautiful woman friend stays with Montalbano overnight. She treats his wounds from his hilarious attempt to break into a triple-padlocked shed. The next morning he can’t remember whether they had sex or not. She tells him it doesn’t matter. Either they had a good time or they didn’t. He can choose to believe whatever he wants.

I’ve told you this before. My father was the son of Sicilian immigrants. I see a lot of my dad’s personality traits in Montalbano. I enjoy these books.

Stephen Sartarelli translated this book.

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