“Some time ago [Montalbano] had read the title, and only the title, of an essay called: ‘God Is Tired.’ Livia had once asked him provocatively if he thought he was God. A fourth rate, minor god, he had thought at the time. But, as the years passed, he’d become convinced he wasn’t even a back row god, but only the poor puppeteer of a wretched puppet theater. A puppeteer who struggled to bring off the performances as best he knew how. And for each new performance he managed to bring to a close, the struggle became greater, more wearisome. How much longer could he keep it up?”
When I read those words, I prayed they applied to Montalbano and not to Andrea Camilleri, the author of The Potter’s Field.
This is an exceptional book. Montalbano is funny, clever, and loyal. He does everything he can to protect his own.
The story begins when a land owner finds a hacked up corpse in the Potter’s Field near Vigàta. Cut into thirty pieces, the corpse leads Montalbano to the Mafia and the Bible.
The corpse also leads Montalbano to one of his own staff.
To protect that man, Montalbano does something uncharacteristic of him. He lets go, at least seemingly. He stays in the background. But he does more than “solve the case.” He manipulates what is happening in such a way as to protect his own.
I’ve said this before. I see Inspector Montalbano as the quintessential Sicilian, much like my father. My grandmother gave birth to my father a day or two after she got off the boat from Sicily. My father was excitable; he loved to eat good Italian food; and he knew people. He could see what was happening when others didn’t.
And so it is with Montalbano.
This is the 13th book in the Montalbano series. I’m aware that Camilleri started writing these in his “retirement.” I trust he has more books in him. But when the time comes that he doesn’t, I will owe him a great debt of gratitude. His books will have filled my life with pleasure.