THE SHAPE OF WATER - Andrea Camilleri

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

THE SHAPE OF WATER is the first in Camilleri's series of books featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Set in Vigata, a fictional seacoast town in southern Sicily, The Shape of Water finds Montalbano investigating the death of a local influential in the very insalubrious surrounds of "The Pasture".

The Pasture, once a goat grazing site is now the place to pick up a drug deal or a prostitute. Montalbano is already a bit suspicious about Luparello's death but when pressure starts being applied by a politician, a judge and a bishop he digs his heels in and insists that an investigation is required despite a verdict of death from a heart attack.

Not only does Camilleri give you a great feeling for the local area, Montalbano is a wonderfully eclectic, grumpy character who works amongst a great array of slightly offbeat policemen. And this is a novel from Italy, so there's food and a passionate love affair, made all the more interesting by the distance between Montalbano and his love Livia, who lives in Genoa.

The translation of this book flowed really well and there's a handy short glossary at the end explaining the meaning of some of the phrases and slang used.

There are other books in this series that have been now been translated and they are all well worth catching up with, even if you read this series out of order they stand up well. You miss a little of the developing relationships between the characters but not enough to lessen the enjoyment.

Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri's wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series, featuring Inspector Montalbano.

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner's verdict is death from natural causes - refreshingly unusual for Sicily.

But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case - even though he's being pressured by Vigàta's police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.

The Shape of Water is followed by the second in this phenomenal series, The Terracotta Dog.

Review THE SHAPE OF WATER - Andrea Camilleri
Karen Chisholm
Monday, October 1, 2007

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