Angelica's Smile: An Inspector Montalbano Mystery

Penguin. Jul. 2014. 304p. tr. from Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. ISBN 9780143123767. pap. $16. M
No one today writes better mysteries than Camilleri and no one's been better served than him by his translator. The distinguishing feature of these stories is their deft blend of old-style detecting, social commentary, and slapstick humor. In the 17th installment (after Treasure Hunt), Montalbano is confronted by a string of burglaries. "Mr. Z," the mastermind behind them, writes to Montalbano, taunting him for his lack of success in solving them. Among the victims is the beautiful Angelica Cosulich, who makes the inspector's heart go pitter-patter: she's the virtual image of the pagan princess Angelica (same name!) in Ariosto's mock-chivalric romance, Orlando Furioso. Whenever Angelica's around, Montalbano doesn't think straight, but he muddles through anyway. Camilleri combines Keystone Kops tomfoolery with mordant wit, overlaying it all with love for even his most extreme characters. What a pleasure it is again to hear Montalbano's language-challenged associate Catarella, who mangles every message he relays, inform Montalbano that there's been another "buggery" in town. Vigata, Sicily, may not be where you'd choose to live but it's a lot of fun to visit.
VERDICT The author's fans will devour this book; for those readers who can't get enough of Camilleri, they should also consider his quirky historical mystery Hunting Season.
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