Monday, June 30, 2014

ANGELICA'S SMILE by Andrea Camilleri


Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano is an aging man with huge appetites for food and sex.

In Angelica's Smile, Montalbano falls for a beautiful suspect who reminds him of a character in the Italian epic poem “The Frenzy of Orlando.”

Apparently Orlando's frenzy was sexual, and the young Montalbano fantasized having intercourse with the woman in “The Frenzy.”

Montalbano, who is now over fifty, has a similar frenzy for a beautiful thirty-year-old woman. She is almost certainly involved in a series of well-planned burglaries. When he and his staff come up with a list of which places might be hit next, the search is on. Except that Montalbano is too busy pursuing Angelica.

Montalbano's lust for Angelica short-circuits his intuition, the quality that makes him a good investigator.

The Inspector's sexual frenzy ends in an unexpected way, or maybe not so unexpected when you think about human fantasies.

After a murder (in the last quarter of the story), Montalbano and his crew solve the case.

Montalbano is the same human Inspector Montalbano we have come to know. He is a habitual liar who spends much of his time eating gourmet food at Enzo's or enjoying the lovingly described meals fixed by his cook and housekeeper Adelina.

Along the way it occurs to Montalbano that he has no friends except the people he works with including the seemingly-almost-incompetent Catarella.

His come-and-go love interest Livia comes and goes in this book too.

I can't tell you how much I like these books. These people, especially the Inspector, are so much more human than most of the mystery story characters I encounter.

If you haven't already met Inspector Montalbano, someday you might want to take the time to do that.


I can never write about these books without a tip of the hat to Stephen Sartarelli, the translator. I've read a Montalbano book translated by someone else. It was good, but it wasn't the same. 

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