August Heat by Andrea Camilleri

Blurb: When a colleague extends his summer vacation, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is forced to stay in Vigàta and endure the August heat. Montalbano’s long-suffering girlfriend, Livia, joins him with a friend—husband and young son in tow—to keep her company during these dog days of summer. But when the boy suddenly disappears into a narrow shaft hidden under the family’s beach rental, Montalbano, in pursuit of the child, uncovers something terribly sinister. As the inspector spends the summer trying to solve this perplexing case, Livia refuses to answer his calls—and Montalbano is left to take a plunge that will affect the rest of his life.

My thoughts: As far as contemporary detectives are concerned Salvo Montalbano is my first choice. I know, Donna Leon fans will crucify me for saying this, but compared to Montalbano Commissario Brunetti is a wet towel.

This is Montalbano’s tenth case (apart from various short stories) and once more he doesn’t disappoint. The case develops reluctantly in this book, the pace is pretty slow, but this fits the scenery perfectly. It is the middle of August and it is hot. It seems everybody is moving in slow motion, because the heat is insufferable.

Once more we get totally immersed in the Sicilian way of life and the atmosphere of an island ruled by corruption, nepotism and the Mafia.

However, a few points really annoyed me while reading it, well, not really annoyed, I just thought they didn’t quite fit.

First of all, the reason Livia left Sicily. Obviously she had to leave in order for the story to develop properly, but the reason was far-fetched. Admittedly, I don’t particularly like Livia (it must be jealousy; I totally know where Adelina, Montalbano’s housekeeper, is coming from) and would believe every negative thing about her people could possibly come up with, but even for me, the reason was implausible.

Then Montalbano’s obsession with his age. You would think the man is 70. For Christ’s sake, he is 55. Hardly an age where mental and physical decay are setting in. I found this constant moaning and worrying to be beneath him.

The end was way too abrupt for me. I don’t like abrupt endings and prefer it when a story slowly fades out instead of ends with a bang like this one.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you like Montalbano this is a must. If you don’t know the character yet, I recommend you start with an earlier novel.

I have put together a list on amazon with the Montalbano series in chronological order. It seems the books with various short(er) stories are not out in English, at least I couldn’t find them on amazon.com.

Fuer deutschsprachige Leser gibt es eine Liste mit allen Buechern der Montalbano Serie in chronologischer Reihenfolge bei amazon.de.

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