Camilleri, Andrea - 'The Potter's Field' (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)
Inspector Salvo Montalbano is called out on a dreadful stormy day to see the remains of a corpse that has been found in the countryside. When he arrives, soaked and miserable, it is to find that the body has disappeared. Eventually the black plastic bag in which the corpse has been wrapped is recovered from the mud slide, but the body is found to have been cut into 30 pieces with all identification removed.
Montalbano has also become aware that his close friend and assistant, Mimi, is more than usually bad tempered and is insisting that Montalbano assigns the new case to him to work without interference. Then Montalbano's girlfriend calls to tell him that Mimi's wife is worried about him and chastises Montalbano for assigning Mimi to all the late night duties. Since there have been no night time stakeouts, Montalbano wonders if Mimi is reverting to his pre-marriage behaviour and having an affair. He doesn't want to get Mimi into trouble and decides to ask his friend, Ingrid, to follow Mimi on one of his night outings. What she discovers, means that Montalbano has to work very hard to help Mimi without arousing his suspicion.
At the same time a beautiful woman reports her husband missing and Montalbano fears that the missing man may be the unidentified body on the field. When a link is discovered with one of the area's Mafia families, Montalbano realises that the killing may have wider implications. As Montalbano brings his usual ability to link seemingly unrelated facts into a coherent whole, Fazio, another of Montalbano's assistants struggles to keep up with the various investigations and cannot understand why Montalbano doesn't challenge Mimi and take full charge of the investigations.
Montalbano, with the usual cast of characters, is on top form with this latest instalment. Sicily is a wonderful backdrop as always, together with the descriptions of the scenery weather and, of course, food and drink.
I have been a fan of Montalbano for a long time, eagerly waiting for the next instalment, I am sure the TV series recently shown on BBC4 will have made many fans and I hope they try the books as, although the series were a very faithful representation, the gently humorous books are a real treat.
Read another review of THE POTTER'S FIELD.
Susan White, England