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Published by Picaor, 6 June 2013. ISBN:
In a heavy rainstorm, Inspector Salvatore
Montalbano of the Sicilian police rescues a young woman whose car is about to
plunge into the sea. Since she seems to have nowhere to go, he takes her to his
house for the night. Her name, she says, is Vanna Digiulio, she is a student
living in Palermo,
and she is supposed to be meeting her aunt in the afternoon of the next day on
the latter’s boat - called The Vanna - when it gets to the harbour at
Vigata. In the morning Montalbano takes her to the police station at Vigata and
tells her she can wait there until TheVanna (real name The
Havana) gets to Vigata. However, when TheHavana does arrive
the Harbour Police call Montalbano to say that there is the body of a man on
board which the crew of TheHavana had found in a dinghy while
coming into port. Montalbano, inspecting the body, sees that the face has been
smashed making facial identification impossible. And The Havana’s rich and glamorous, but
short-tempered and sexually rapacious owner, Livia Giovannini, first denies
having any knowledge of a niece called Vanna and then admits, somewhat
unconvincingly, that she came and then left. But Montalbano’s further enquiries
elicit that Vanna never went on board The Havana, and that whoever she
was she was not Vanna Digiulio, the real one having died in Iraq some years
ago. Montalbano is puzzled and suspicious about The Havana, her owner
and her crew, particularly since the false Vanna seems to have known quite a
lot about them all. Is The Havana at the centre of some criminal
activity - if so, what? Who really is the false Vanna Digiulio? And why does
the beautiful Lieutenant Laura Belladonna of the Harbour Police, to whom Montalbano
is attracted, behave so erratically?
As with all
the Montalbano stories, there are numerous twists and turns before Montalbano
can solve the twin mysteries of The Havana and the false Vanna Digiulio.
Extra confusion arises from Montalbano’s sudden and overwhelming infatuation
with Laura Belladonna, exacerbated by the coolness shown to him by his own
long-term and far-distant girlfriend. Montalbano’s constant good-tempered
bickering with his colleagues provide an entertaining background, while the social
lies he finds himself making to a particularly irritating colleagues who is
convinced, despite Montalbano’s protestations to the contrary, that he has a
wife andchildren, are genuinely
amusing. And Montalbano’s frequent forays to his favourite restaurant are most
enticing - any chance of recipes? No wonder the TV BBC4 series is so popular.
Reviewer: Radmila May
by the author include The Potter’s Field, The Patience of The Spider,
and The Voice of the Violin.
Andrea Camilleri is
one of Italy’s
most famous contemporary writers. The Inspector Montalbano series has been
translated into thirty-two languages and was adapted for Italian television,
screened on BBC4. The Potter’s Field, the thirteenth book in the series, was
awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger for the best
crime novel translated into English. He lives in Rome.