Andrea Camilleri, Author, Cyril Pearl, Author , trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. Viking $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-670-03223-5

In his third Inspector Salvo Montalbano mystery to be made available in the U.S., Camilleri (The Shape of Water) displays all the storytelling skills that have made him an international bestseller. When gunfire from a Tunisian patrol boat kills a worker on an Italian fishing trawler, the worldly Sicilian police inspector knows that this is just the type of situation his overly ambitious second-in-command, Mimi Augello, will want to exploit. Meanwhile, Montalbano has to look into the stabbing death of a retiree in the elevator of the victim's apartment building. While the trawler incident appears to resolve itself, the elevator slaying gets more complex by the minute. Soon Montalbano is searching for the retiree's beautiful housekeeper (and sometimes prostitute) and her son. It's only when he finds the boy (the snack thief of the title) that Montalbano learns the true nature of the case, its relation to the trawler shooting and the danger it poses. Although warned to keep his distance, Montalbano, who can't deny his investigative instincts any more than he can refuse a hardy portion of sardines a beccafico, proceeds headlong into the thick of government corruption with a risky plan to set things right. Montalbano, despite his curmudgeonly exterior, has a depth to him that charms. Readers are sure to savor this engrossing, Mafia-free Sicilian mystery. (Apr. 28)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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