Angelica's Smile by Andrea Camilleri

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Angelica's Smile by Andrea Camilleri

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It might be number 17 in the series but there's no dropping off of standards and it's another great read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Mantle
ISBN: 978-1447249115

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It's quite possible that Inspector Montalbano would not have been sent to investigate the perfectly-executed robberies had it not been that it was the rich, the elite of Vigata who had been targeted. Initially he was reluctant to take on the investigation but it soon became clear that it wasn't just the fact that they'd been burgled that linked the victims. And then there was Angelica...

Angelica was one of the victims but when Montalbano first saw her he was forcibly reminded of Angelica in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso - or rather the picture he had always had in his mind of Ariosto's heroine. The real Angelica was a natural blond, stunningly beautiful and completely open about her need for occasional casual sexual encounters. Montalbano at just about twice her age was completely besotted, to the point where his feelings interfered with his relationship with long-term girlfriend Livia. Making matters worse, the burglaries continued and the perpetrator played with Montalbano, sending him anonymous letters.

It's very easy for a long-running series to become a little stale, to read a little tired, but despite this being number seventeen in the series there's no reason to think that this is happening. There's no sign of change in Montalbano's circumstances: his relationship with Livia seems to be foundering - but then it's seemed liked that almost from day one - and his colleagues are much the same. Catarella's command (or lack of it) of language is perhaps getting more annoying than amusing but everyone else plays their usual parts and as ever there's gorgeous food which leaves you drooling.

So, how does it stay fresh? Why has there rarely been a book which didn't completely satisfy? It's down to the originality of the plots. This time it's almost a locked-room mystery as it quickly becomes obvious that the person masterminding the burglaries must be one of a limited number of people, but it isn't quite as simple as eliminating them one by one and - as ever- some people are not quite what they seem. Unusual in this book was the fact that Montalbano didn't even look to be in control - and that was rather better than he felt - but the thief manifestly was. I had several people chalked in as the villain - and I still managed to get it wrong.

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

The book reads perfectly well as a standalone, but if you want some semblance of order then here's a list in chronological order. Camilleri steps outside the Montalbano series in Judges by Andrea Camilleri, Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo De Cataldo but for more Italian crime we can recommend The Art of Killing Well by Marco Malvaldi and Howard Curtis (translator).

Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano Books in Chronological Order

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