The wings of the sphinx by Andrea Camilleri

Blurb: Things are not going well for Inspector Salvo Montalbano. His relationship with Livia is once again on the rocks and-acutely aware of his age-he is beginning to grow weary of the endless violence he encounters. Then a young woman is found dead, her face half shot off and only a tattoo of a sphinx moth giving any hint of her identity. The tattoo links her to three similarly marked girls-all victims of the underworld sex trade-who have been rescued from the Mafia night-club circuit by a prominent Catholic charity. The problem is, Montalbano’s inquiries elicit an outcry from the Church and the three other girls are all missing.

My thoughts: OK, by now everybody knows that I am a huge fan of Camilleri’s Montalbano series, so you probably don’t expect me to complain here. And I won’t.

As usual Camilleri gives us a glance into Montalbano’s life and a couple of cases going on at the same time. The German books always have a subtitle, and this one is “Commissario Montalbano is longing for the lightness of being”. True enough! He feels he’s getting old and that the carefree days are over. His relationship with Livia has come to a deadlock and something needs to be done to either continue or end it. So his private situation is rather depressing. Thank God there is Ingrid to lighten Montalbano’s mood. I totally like Ingrid, liked her from the first book she appeared in. She is open, independent, not prejudiced in any way and accepts things without questioning them. At the same time she doesn’t expect being questioned herself. Montalbano once thought that she is quite unlike any other woman he knows and I think he’s spot on.

One of the cases is quite intriguing and at one occasion, the interrogation of a suspect, it beautifully shows how well Montalbano and one of his inspectors, Fazio, work together without the need to discuss things beforehand. They just click.

The side characters are all extremely likeable, all for their own reasons. Fazio, because he understands what Montalbano wants from him immediately without being told and, at the same time, drives him nuts with his reporting data fixation. Mimi, the ex-womanizer, who has turned into a docile husband and father. Catarella, who never opens a door without smashing it and only gets a name right once in a blue moon. Even though you don’t know much about them other than case-related, they all are personalities and you think you’ve known them forever.

This is just another great book by Camilleri. I hope there are many more to come.

The Wings of the Sphinx is available on amazon.

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