cover image Death at Sea: Montalbano’s Early Cases

Death at Sea: Montalbano’s Early Cases

Andrea Camilleri, trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. Penguin, $16 tr

Set in 1980s Vigàta, Sicily, the eight stories in this delightful collection from CWA International Dagger Award–winner Camilleri (The Pyramid of Mud), show a young Salvo Montalbano encountering tricky situations and crimes that can’t always be solved by traditional police work. The cast is familiar, even though Camilleri has not yet rounded the interplay of his main characters into a mature form. Livia is already Salvo’s lover; Insp. Mimi Augello and Detective Fazio are already his able assistants; and office aide Catarella is butchering the language as usual. Highlights include “Room Number 2,” in which Salvo solves an arson case, and “Double Investigation,” in which he has a seminal confrontation with Augello. Salvo’s cleverness derails a complex drug operation in “Death at Sea.” Pamela, an unlikely but sexually voracious barmaid, disappears in “The Stolen Message,” and Salvo figures out the surprising reason why. This is a must for Montalbano fans and anyone else who values superb plotting. Agent: Carmen Prestia, Carmen Prestia Agenzia Letteraria (Italy). (Sept.)