The Track of Sand

Andrea Camilleri, trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, Penguin, $14 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-14-311793-3
At the start of bestseller Camilleri's robust 12th Inspector Montalbano mystery (after 2009's The Wings of the Sphinx), the Sicilian inspector looks out his window and sees the carcass of a horse on the beach. The animal, he discovers, has been bludgeoned to death. As he turns his back to phone in the crime, the horse vanishes, leaving a track in the sand. Was the horse slaughtered for its meat by illegal immigrants? Is someone trying to send a message to the owner? Or is the Mafia edging its way into the racing industry? The repeated vandalizing of Montalbano's home and a Mafia thug's murder complicate the investigation. The street-smart inspector takes a broadly comic trip to the racetrack in an effort to link all these events together. While convoluted plotting and byzantine complexities distract, Montalbano uses some creative chicanery and tweaking of the law to provide a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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