Camilleri, Andrea - 'The Wings of the Sphinx' (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)
You know summer's on its way when the, eagerly awaited, UK edition of the latest from Andrea Camilleri is published. THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX is the eleventh in the Sicilian Inspector Salvo Montalbano series and the events at the end of AUGUST HEAT are still being felt by Montalbano. He's feeling his age, fifty-six, and his long-distance, long-term relationship with Livia is very rocky. When the body of a beautiful twenty-year-old woman is found at an unofficial dumping site, he can't face going close to the body, "he could no longer bear the sight of people cut down in their youth."
The investigation leads Montalbano to a charitable organisation which helps young women escape immoral activities and finds them respectable work but this line of enquiry soon gets Montalbano at odds with the Commissioner, "Upon hearing such a long string of cliches, Montalbano suddenly felt dizzy", and he's given four days to conclude the matter.
In the background to the main murder case is that of the supposed kidnapping of a wealthy businessman - the police almost immediately concluded the kidnapping was staged so that the man could spend some time with his mistress - but not surprisingly the wife is not in agreement with this hypothesis.
Montalbano solves his cases, using a mixture of insight and acting to get the truth from his witnesses, suspects, villains, all against a backdrop of described culinary delights, weather reports and state of the nation reflections - in particular the modification to the law on justifiable self-defence - the significance of which would be lost without translator Stephen Sartarelli's excellent notes.
THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX is an enjoyable entry in this excellent series which contains much humour, lovable characters, political commentary and a beautiful, nearly always hot, setting. New readers to the Montalbano series should, if they have time, perhaps start at the beginning of the series, THE SHAPE OF WATER, but failing that, starting with the paperback of AUGUST HEAT will explain some of what Montalbano's going through in SPHINX.
Read another review of THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX.
Karen Meek, England