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Sunday 20 April 2014
‘The Treasure Hunt’ by Andrea Camilleri
26 September 2013.
When an elderly deranged brother and sister start shooting from their apartment into the street below it is Inspector Montalbano of the Sicilian police who enters the flat and deals with the situation. Not only does media coverage turn Montalbano into a television hero but also publicises in loving detail the squalid chaos of the apartment, in particular a lifesize inflatable doll which seems to have been sexually mutilated. However, once the couple have been taken to a lunatic asylum, there is little to do either on the case or generally as crime in Vigata appears to be on the wane. But then Montalbano receives a strange missive in the form of a doggerel riddle. The solution takes him to a dustbin in a quiet suburb containing what at first appears to be a corpse but which then turns out to be another sexually mutilated inflatable doll. Irritated yet made uneasy by this and by receiving yet more doggerel riddles and feeling that he is being manipulated and also anxious to get away to his far-distant long-suffering girlfriend Livia, he accepts an offer of help from the youthful Arturo Pennisi in solving the riddles. Meanwhile, Montalbano's efforts to get rid of the dolls lead some people such as his respectable housekeeper Adelina to believe that they are real corpses while others, like his colleagues Fazio and Augello, think that Montalbano has been driven by sexual abstinence to use the dolls as sex toys. Adelina;s criminal son Pasquale even sends along an obliging prostitute which causes a misunderstanding between Montalbano and his neighbour Ingrid. But when an elderly father comes to Montalbano to report the disappearance of his daughter and Montalbano realises that the girl who is blond, slim and beautful bears all too close a resemblance to the dolls, farce turns to tragedy and Montalbano has to act swiftly and risk his own life to discover the strange and terrible truth.
This is the sixteenth Montalbano mystery and as full of warmth and humanity as the others. The affection between Montalbano and his colleagues, even the bumbling Catarella, is as strong as ever while the descriptions of the Sicilian delicacies consumed by Montalbano are, as usual, mouthwatering.
Other Montalbano mysteries by the author include The Shape of Water, The Tewrracotta Dog, The Age of Doubt and The Dance of the Seagull.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy's most famous contemporary writers. His Montalbano series has been adapted for Italian television and translated into nine languages. He lives in Rome. Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator. He is also the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Open Vault. He lives in France.