Inspector Montalbano, likes more than just mere snacks.
He gobbled up a sauté of clams in breadcrumbs, a heaped dish of spaghetti in white clam sauce, a roast turbot with caramelized lemon, and topped it all off with a bitter chocolate timbale in orange sauce.
But then he is not the snack thief, just your average Sicilian, who likes good food. This is not a book for anyone on a diet, the dishes described are so tantalising. It is not actually a book about Sicilian cuisine (although many mouthwatering dishes are described) but a murder mystery. An elderly man is stabbed in a lift, his widow accuses the mistress, Karima, a beautiful Tunisian house cleaner, who offers special services for extra remuneration as being the murderer. At around the same time a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat. The two violent deaths seem unconnected but Montalbano is not so sure.
Karima has disappeared and her young son has been stealing other children’s mid-morning snacks. Montalbanos superiors are livid, when they find he has deployed so many officers to catch the young snack thief, but Montalbano is convinced he is necessary to lead them to Karima and get to the bottom of the murder mystery.
Montalbano gets cantankerous, when he is hungry and is not above trickery and ruses to progress his investigation. The book has a lot of humour and the characters have interesting eccentricities, not least Montalbano who perceives smells as colours, Karima’s strong Volupté perfume he sees as the colour of burnt straw. The mystery had many layers and becomes more intriguing as each piece is revealed.
My rating 4 out of 5
English Translation by Stephen Sartarelli