Sunday, September 29, 2013

TREASURE HUNT by Andrea Camilleri



Andrea Camilleri's Treasure Hunt is a horror story, not a police procedural.

The story begins with Sicily’s Inspector Salvo Montalbano as a hero. He climbs a ladder in the face of gunfire to take an aging, insane couple into custody.

In so doing, he finds the man's sad inflatable doll sex partner.

And then Montalbano starts receiving letters. The letters, in poor poetry, challenge him to a treasure hunt. Among the treasures he finds another inflatable doll.

Montalbano takes the whole thing as a game. Early on, he fails to see the vicious insanity in the notes. He decides to play the game.

At the same time, next to nothing is happening for the police. Montalbano and his crew are bored.

More letters come. The reader has the sense that something terrible will happen. 

Along the way, Montalbano finds an abused animal head, but almost three-quarters of the book occurs before a human being is at risk at all.

Fairly early along the way, readers have surely guessed at least a part of what is happening, but Montalbano doesn't. The early humor in the book, makes the horror all the worse.

All this leads to a vicious, brutally-described murder. There is little but sadness in this book.

Camilleri's Treasure Hunt is unforgettable. Montalbano comes off as incompetent and sad, but not exactly failing. Camilleri comes off as a brilliant writer.

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As always, acknowledgments to Camilleri's translator Stephen Sartarelli.

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