Viking, Nov 2002, 19.95, 192 pp.
Small time drug dealer and brothel owner Gege Gulotta arranges a meeting between his old schoolmate Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano and Mafiosi big shot Gaetano "Tano The Greek" Bennici. Tano asks Salvo to fake a raid and arrest him because he needs to go to the hospital for an illness without losing face among his peers.
The simple performance of acting out the arrest of Tano almost collapses as Salvos' troops trip over one another. However, Tano's enemies manage to kill him anyway, but not before Salvo follows clues to a cave where a cache of loot and illegal arms are found right next to another cave where the remains of two lovers killed several decades ago lie next to a terra-cotta dog. Salvo begins his investigation in his droll style, which means search the literature as much or more so than interrogating those linked to the case.
The second Inspector Montalbano case is a strong police procedural due to the lead character, who is sort of similar to Colombo though a lot more wittier. The investigation will entertain readers, but mostly because Salvo is a great character. How can you not like someone whose preference is quiet time alone to finish a Barcelona detective story rather than deal with mobsters or search caves for clues. Fans of refreshing lively police investigations will want to obtain this novel as well Andrea Camilleri's previous Salvo book, THE SHAPE OF WATER.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner