Friday, May 17, 2013

Review of The Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri (Penguin, 2013; Italian 2009)

Inspector Montalbano is just about to head away for a few days holiday with Livia when he witnesses a seagull plummet from the sky, hitting the ground hard.  It staggers to its feet, does a strange dance then drops dead.  Disturbed by the bird’s demise he heads into work to sign some forms before departing on his break.  There he learns that his trusted right-hand man, Fazio, has disappeared having gone to the docks to investigate an allegation of drugs smuggling.  Forgetting his trip, Montalbano starts to hunt for Fazio, fearing the seagull was a portent sign.  As he follows the trail, he is soon drawn into a conspiracy of smuggling, blackmail and murder.
The Dance of the Seagull is the fifteenth book in the Montalbano series.  Whilst Montalbano is a reasonably serious character, the books are light-hearted and witty, as much as about Sicilian life and culture, especially its food, as about solving the crime.  The atmosphere and sense of place are nicely realised.  The characterisation is well observed and some of the dialogue exchanges are wonderful.  As were the internal dialogues between Montalbano 1 and 2, sitting on each of his shoulders.  The plot for the most part worked okay, though the resolution felt a little clunky, as if Camilleri wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end then somehow muddled through.  Moreover, as with the other books, time and space seemed a little elastic -- the investigation takes place at a leisurely pace and everywhere seemed to take a long time to get to and was far away, yet it is meant to be a local police force and Montalbano had an intimate knowledge of the local geography.  Overall, a fairly dark story told through witty and light storytelling. 

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - Glad you thought this was a good read. I like this series an awful lot actually.