August Heat by Andrea Camilleri

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August Heat by Andrea Camilleri

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The tenth Inspector Montalbano mystery finds him suffering from the heat and pangs of lust for a younger woman. As ever it reads well as a stand-alone and is highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-0330457293

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In the furnace-like heat of early August Inspector Montalbano is suffering but he's hoping for some relief when he rents a villa a few miles away on the coast for his girlfriend's friends. Livia is doubtful that this will work out, convinced that Salvo will become involved in the latest murder and there will be no holiday. She's only slightly reassured by his reply that this weather is too hot for murderers and there'll be nothing until the autumn.

But the villa seems cursed. There's a plague of cockroaches and another of mice but this is just the beginning. It's when the friends' young son goes missing and Montalbano finds an old trunk that problems really start. How can he tell Livia that when he opened it there was a corpse inside?

Every time that I open an Inspector Montalbano book I wonder if this is the time that I'm going to be disappointed, if the series will have lost its freshness and become formulaic. August Heat is the tenth in the series and, if anything, they're getting better. Compared to many other writers Camilleri's books are short, but the writing is tight and nothing is sacrificed. The characters are all three-dimensional; some you will know from earlier books and others are fresh, but they all come off the page fully formed.

The locations are well-done. You can feel the August heat of Sicily – even the book cover adds to the sensation – to the point where you feel lethargic and unwilling to do anything more than continue to read. There's the stench of corruption too – from the rather lax attitudes to building regulations to the barely concealed dig at Silvio Berlusconi. Above all though, there's the food. It might be hot and cold food might be all that appeals but that doesn't mean that your mouth isn't going to water. (As an aside, there's a potato and onion dish mentioned. I made it and it is delicious.)

It is the character of Montalbano which carries the book and the series. He's conniving, but with a self-deprecating sense of humour. There's a sense now that he's feeling his age and not just in the way of physical infirmity. Faced with an attractive young woman it's the age difference that occurs to him almost before anything else. Lust brings its own punishment.

I did guess who committed the murder, but the Montalbano series is unusual in that it doesn't really matter if you do. The journey through the book is such a pleasure that it doesn't really matter.

Once again the novel is translated by Stephen Sartarelli, the award-winning poet. The highest praise that I can give is to say that the book doesn't read like a translation.

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

If Italian detective stories appeal to you then you might like to look at the work of Michael Dibdin and Donna Leon. For more detection in a hot climate we can recommend River of the Dead by Barbara Nadel.

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Buy August Heat by Andrea Camilleri at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy August Heat by Andrea Camilleri at

Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano Books in Chronological Order


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