Montalbano's First Case by Andrea Camilleri

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Montalbano's First Case by Andrea Camilleri

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It seems strange to think back to a time when Montalbano wasn't a chief inspector, wasn't living by the sea - and was just a little bit wet behind the ears. This was his first case in Vigata.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 97 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Mondadori

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Montalbano was just thirty five and he was a deputy Inspector up in the mountains, which he hated to the extent that they could put him off his food. But in the way that such things are known, he knew that he would be promoted before long. What was not known was where he would be promoted to and this worried him. If it was another posting in the mountains he would resign. His girlfriend's uncle told the couple that it was Vigata, which delighted Montalbano and he went to visit, unfortunately witnessing an assault. The wiser traffic cop in the area was otherwise engaged (chatting to a couple of dogs, as it happened...) but Montalbano was quick to correct the car registration which he'd noted down wrongly.

Once settled into the town and becoming wiser about the local affiliations he was called as a witness in the assault case, but mysteriously it kept being delayed. It wasn't the case that worried him, but who was the young girl who was always in the courthouse when he visited? Why is she almost immobile - and why is she carrying a gun? But what makes Montalbano ponder most is why the girl appears to have a vendetta against one of the few judges who never seems to have done anyone any harm?.

It's a novella and I read it in a couple of hours. You'll meet a couple of the characters whom you'll come to know well over the series, but Catarella is yet to appear and the girlfriend is one to be quickly lost in the mists of time. Translation is by Gianluca Rizzo and Dominic Siracusa rather than Stephen Sartarelli and I did miss his notes which add so much to his translations. There's a notable lack of blood and bodies too, but it has to be said that this is still a darned good story. I loved the signs of the Montalbano we'd get to know (if not necessarily love) - he described the law as rather like the sweater his aunt knitted (badly) for him - it needed easing here and pulling in there and general adjusting to make it comfortable. Excellent.

Forget it's a quick read - there are always occasions when that's what you want - because there is a lot of skill in this book and it reads as though it's a lot bigger. There's also a buildup of tension as you read - and a sense that there's something deeply wrong. As I got nearer the end the book would have had to have been torn from my hands. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

The obvious place to go now is the original first book in the series.

Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano Books in Chronological Order

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