Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A VOICE IN THE NIGHT by Andrea Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri’s A Voice in the Night is a Sicilian police procedural.

Inspector Montalbano and his crew investigate the “suicide” of a grocery store manager. A powerful Mafia group owns the store.

As if that weren’t enough, they also investigate a brutal murder. Someone murdered the lover of the son of a powerful politician.

Both the Mafia and the politicians use media and government to smear Montalbano and his crew. So Montalbano lies, manipulates the evidence, and enlists his own media allies.

Along the way, he worries that he is growing older. He continues to have telephone contact with his lover Livia, though his contacts are not so contentious as in some of the other books. And he eats huge meals with richly described food.

Always there is food in these books.

A Voice in the Night is not the best of the Montalbano books. Camilleri wrote it several years ago, and it is just now being published. Camilleri mentions this in his afterward.

The book interested me because of the way it portrayed the public as sometimes duped and the police as often having to manipulate the evidence.

At one point Montalbano and his radio announcer friend have this conversation:

Montalbano says--“I don’t think popular will or public opinion has any concrete effect on things anymore.”

“So, in your opinion, the press and television serve no purpose? Don’t they serve to shape public opinion?”

“Nicolo, the press--that is the newspapers--are useless. Italy is a country with two million illiterates and thirty percent of the population that can barely sign their names. Three-quarters of those who buy newspapers read only the headlines, which often--and this is another fine Italian custom--say the opposite of what the articles themselves say. The few remaining people have already formed their opinions and buy whatever newspaper reflects what they already think.

Sound familiar? Except that maybe in the U.S. we might apply some of what he says to the Internet and TV too.

A Voice in the Night wasn’t the best of the Montalbano books. Still, the book had enough to keep me reading.

Again, my thanks to Stephen Sartarelli. His excellent translations make it possible for me to enjoy these books. 

1 comment:

R. T. (Tim) Davis said...

Well, _A Voice in the Night_ might not be the best by Camilleri, and I will take your word for that assessment, but any one of his books is better than most in the genre being published. I have a goal: read everything by Camilleri. Your review/posting reinforces my goal. Thanks!