Crime Fiction, Italian Style | Mystery

Strongly recommended for purchase where the series is known, this book will also serve as a fine introduction to Camilleri’s oeuvre.

Camilleri, Andrea. The Safety Net. Penguin. (Inspector Montalbano, Bk. 25). Mar. 2020. 272p. tr. from Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. ISBN 9780143134961. pap. $16. M
Inspector Montalbano is feeling under siege. A Swedish film crew has descended on his Sicilian village of Vigàta to film a TV period piece and the townspeople are all aflutter. The chaos is making Montalbano’s sacred solitary lunches a thing of the past and is causing no end of headaches for his fellow officers. One afternoon, a local man presents the inspector with a titillating find; six Super-8 movies that his father shot in the late 1950s; each contains the same recording. The films show an outside wall, on the same day, for six consecutive years. With very little to go on, the inspector begins digging into the family’s past, and a tragic tale slowly takes shape. While all this is happening, a parallel story unfolds involving Montalbano’s second-in-command and an inexplicable and terrifying incident at a local school. Revered Italian author Camilleri (1925–2019; The Other End of the Line, The Shape of Water, Death in Sicily) created an enduring, award-winning series that is internationally recognized. This 25th book is absorbing, cerebral, and infused with humor as well as tantalizing descriptions of Sicilian cuisine.
VERDICT Strongly recommended for purchase where the series is known, this book will also serve as a fine introduction to Camilleri’s oeuvre.—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph, MI

Leon, Donna. Trace Elements: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery. Grove Atlantic. (Commissario Guido Brunetti, Bk. 29). Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780802148674. $27. M
Venice Commisario of Police Guido Brunetti and his partner Claudia Griffoni are called to the bedside of a dying woman as this latest outing (after Unto Us a Son Is Given) begins. When they arrive at the hospice, the patient is only able to tell them that her late husband, who supposedly died in a motorcycle accident, was killed over "bad money." She dies before she can tell them more. They investigate and learn the husband had worked at a company that monitored water quality in the area and was noted for his rectitude. Braving the summer heat, the detectives keep digging in an effort to find out what money the wife was talking about and if—and why—someone might have wanted her husband dead. The heat and blinding sunlight reflecting off the buildings and water become characters, too, in Leon’s well-crafted, atmospheric mystery.
VERDICT Fans of the series will enjoy this new adventure. [See Prepub Alert, 8/19/19.]—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green

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