originally published as Una voce di notte, 2012
translated by Stephen Sartarelli
I don't think I've ever kept up with a crime fiction/mystery series for as long as I have with this one, but A Voice in the Night is the 20th (!) installment in Camilleri's series featuring Salvo Montalbano. To say that I love this series is an understatement -- it's light but not too light, funny, and yet at the same time, Camilleri never fails to draw attention to some aspect of political or social issues in his own country. More importantly, though, Montalbano and his cohorts are like old friends at this point; they are people I enjoy revisiting every now and then. I don't think that there is another crime fiction series out there (and I've read TONS) that has given me so much pleasure, which is another reason that I love these books.
There are two cases at work here, both of which have the dubious distinction of setting Montalbano (and his superiors) between the proverbial rock and a hard place. First, there is what seems to be an ordinary supermarket robbery, which turns out to be anything but ordinary. Second, a young man who a) turns out to be the son of the provincial president, and b) pushes Montalbano's road-rage buttons by driving erratically turns up again to report the murder of his girlfriend. Both cases have to be handled with kid gloves and Montalbano has to come up with some clever workarounds to ensure that justice is served. Around the action, once again we find Salvo in his own head, musing about old age (the book starts on his 58th birthday), politics, the media, and lack of respect for the elderly among other things.
For me to stick with a series for so long is unheard of -- what I've discovered over the years is that some authors would be better served letting their series run take a rest. As someone once told me when I was very upset with the end of the excellent Wallander series, sometimes it's better to go out gracefully and leave your readers with good memories rather than to drag something out forever and get stale. After 20 books I can honestly say that I don't see how Montalbano and his motley crew can go down that second road -- I have so much fun with Montalbano that I've already pre-ordered the next one (due out in August), A Nest of Vipers. As long as Camilleri's novels continue to be published, I'll continue to read them.
crime fiction from Italy