cover image Riccardino


Andrea Camilleri, trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. Penguin, $17 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-1431-3679-8

In an amusing metafictional twist, Camilleri (1925–2019) plays a part in his elegiac 28th and final mystery featuring Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano (after The Cook of the Halcyon). Just shy of five o’clock in the morning, Montalbano’s phone rings. The caller identifies himself as Riccardino and says, “We’re all here already, outside the Bar Aurora, and you’re the only one missing!” Peeved at being disturbed, Montalbano tells the stranger he’ll be right there, hangs up, and goes back to bed. A second call comes an hour later—from his police colleagues, who ask him to come to the Bar Aurora to investigate the murder of Riccardo Lopresti. Montalbano feels “strangely certain—with a certainty as absolute as it was inexplicable—that the poor bastard who was shot was the same person who had called him on the phone before dawn by dialing a wrong number.” As motives begin to multiply, Montalbano’s investigation is muddled by phone calls from “the Author” spouting far-fetched suggestions on how to proceed. Incisive wit colors this insightful and intriguing farewell. The sad, poetic ending is perfect. (Sept.)