The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri

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The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The eleventh in the Inspector Montalbano series is as fresh and intriguing as ever. Recommended
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Mantle
ISBN: 978-0330507646

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Inspector Salvo Montalbano’s immediate reaction when Caterella rang him at home was that a dead man had been found somewhere. Cat soon puts him right though. It’s a woman. She’s been found, naked but particularly clean and on the edge of the local rubbish tip. Most of her face had been blown away, which was going to make identification particularly difficult. Two things were obvious though – she was particularly beautiful and she had a tattoo of a butterfly on her shoulder blade.

Add to this the fact that Montalbano is becoming increasingly disenchanted with violence and not just in the job. It’s all over the media too – the same stories but with different names and places. His relationship with long-term girlfriend Livia has hit either the doldrums or the rocks and neither can quite make up their mind as to which it is. They need to talk, but when and where?

What more can I say? It’s Camilleri and Montalbano and it’s number eleven in the series. There’s no sense of Camilleri getting stale. Montalbano might be getting older but the character is certainly not getting tired. Caterella is still there poissonally in poisson, creating mayhem as he goes along and so are the rest of the team. The food’s as mouth-watering as it always has been.

It’s Sicily, so the Mafia are always there in the background, but now there seem to be more digs at Silvio Berlusconi than there have been previously. When you read have a good look at the notes at the back – they’ll explain quite a few of the references which you might otherwise miss.

It’s a very good plot with a few twists which I hadn’t expected and it deals with some very up-to-the-moment issues. There’s people trafficking, the underworld sex trade which so often results from it, drugs and a charitable organisation which might not be all it seems, but certainly has friends in high places.

As ever we’re indebted to the superb translation by New York poet Stephen Sartarelli. The highest praise I can give is to say that it really doesn’t read like a translation and converting what Caterella says without is losing something in the translation cannot be easy.

I’d like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

The first book in the Montalbano series is The Shape of Water and whilst there’s no need to read the books in order (they all read as stand alones) you might a well have the pleasure of starting at the beginning. For a non-fictional look at the Mafia we can recommend Into the Heart of the Mafia: A Journey Through the Italian South by David Lane. For more Italian detectives we can recommend anything by Michael Dibdin or Donna Leon.

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Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano Books in Chronological Order


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