cover image Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories

Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories

Andrea Camilleri, trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. Penguin, $18 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-0-14-312162-6

For this sparkling collection, bestseller Camilleri (A Beam of Light) selected 21 of his 59 published stories featuring Chief Insp. Salvo Montalbano of Sicily's Vig%C3%A0ta police. The title tale, one of the longest and most satisfying, is the only one to have previously appeared in English translation. In 1985, Montalbano is transferred to Vig%C3%A0ta, where he deals first with a sensitive case involving Giuseppe Cusumano, the favorite grandson of Don Sisino Cuffaro, the head of a powerful Mafia family. The story showcases Montalbano's love of good food, his perfect little house, his curiosity and sympathy, and his unconventional but shrewd problem solving. Some of the best stories are quite brief and moving, such as "The Pact," in which Montalbano stops to help an old woman walking alone at night, and the metafictional "Montalbano Says No," in which the detective has a dispute with his creator. Familiar supporting characters get a chance to shine, most notably and improbably in "Catarella Solves a Case," in which "Cat" Catarella, his assistant (with a gift for butchering language), takes a lead role. This is a treat for admirers of the Montalbano novels and a superb introduction for new readers. Agent: Donatella Barbieri, Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale (Italy). (Feb.)