The Voice of the Violin is number 4 in the Commisario Montalbano series of books, and number 2 of the tv show.
On the way to a funeral, Montalbano and Gallo end up in a crash due to Gallo’s speeding, hitting a stationary car on the side of the road. They don’t know who owns parked car or house. Following a visit to the hospital, the pair drive back past the house and see the car still sitting there untouched.
Mimi puts Caterella forward for an IT course, which means Caterella is not there for most of the episode, which can be a good thing, as his form of slapstick delivery can get annoying if played too much. Salvo and Livia argue about their wedding and fostering of François . Mimi is off on another case, which means that Salvo doesn’t get to talk things out with him much, either about the case or Livia.
Salvo visits the house where they had the crash, and breaks in, finding the naked body of a dead woman in a large room. He returns to visit an elderly lady from the previous episode, Clementina Vasile Cozzo, and gets her to make an anonymous phone call reporting the dead body. Whilst there he meets the old man Barbera from upstairs who is a violinist.
The team visits the house again, formally this time, but because of the location, it’s not their usual forensics team who turn up. Fazio twigs that Salvo has been there before and checks that he wore gloves. The dead woman is Michela, who is/was married to a much older, rich man called Licalzi who knows she has at least one lover: Serravalle, an antiques seller in Bologna. The Licalzi live elsewhere and she is down to convert the villa, maybe into a hotel.
In investigating her time in Vigata, Montalbano finds her friend Anna, who tells Salvo that Michaela had been stalked by Maurizio di Blasi, a mentally deficient 31-year-old.
On the personal front, François has chosen to stay with Franca and her family and is worried that Salvo is going to take him away. Livia is not happy when told and claims it is because Salvo doesn’t want to be a father, so they have another argument…..
Salvo is taken off the case by the commissioner he doesn’t like, and that combined with François makes him grumpy. di Blasi gets arrested by the flying squad only to be killed in the following shootout. With di Blasi dead, Salvo decides to resume the investigation. He hears that the mafia have a witness that claims it didn’t go down as described, and the suspected hand grenade was in fact di Blasi’s shoe.
Salvo visits Panzacchi, captain of flying squad with a video showing that di Blasi wasn’t carrying a grenade. He tells Panzacchi to sort it out as it will bring down Commissioner and the local Judge if the video gets out. The following day Panzacchi resigns and Salvo is back on the case. Fazio and Mimi know there’s more going on they don’t know about, and Galluzzo puts his foot in it by trying to celebrate.
Anna says she saw Michaela with an older man she remembered was a violinist but Michaela didn’t want to talk about it further. He asks her some further questions, she’s disappointed when he doesn’t make a pass. Realising that the situation is not about sex or love, Salvo goes looking for the money and in going through her papers Salvo realises she’s been fiddling her expenses
Livia pops round, having been to see François , and had been persuaded to talk to Salvo by Mimi, as they have become friends. She’s upset but coming to terms that François doesn’t want to leave Franca and her husband and the situation is not really Salvo’s fault.
Salvo visits maestro Barbera (the violinist he met previously) who confirms he knew Michela and that she had asked him to get a certain violin certified and he had lent her one in return, however not the one that was found in the house when she died. Salvo then begins to piece things together so following the funeral, Salvo visits Serravalle in his hotel suite, puts forward his theory that Serravalle is heavily in debt due to gambling and Michela had been helping him. In desperation, he decides to kill her and steal the violin, not knowing it was the replacement and therefore practically valueless.
Serravalle points out impossible to prove but realises that being arrested by the police is better of two bad options. Salvo lets him go off on his own to pack his bag, only for a gunshot to ring out….
I read the book after watching the episode several times. The show runs very close to the book, with just a few scenes that are different – e.g. where the body is found, that Salvo calls Caterella “Cat”, and Caterella’s inability to talk properly is made clear.
Once again, the sets look amazing, with the houses clearly in need of repair, but you can see what stunning places Sicily can have (the room where the dead woman is found has an old and large tree growing in the centre, as you do). Something I’m finding hard when writing these reviews, is that many characters are not named in the program (or are named once in a previous episode), so it’s a little difficult to refer to characters or their roles. It is very hard when trying to write a review of the program!
It also seems that the Italian justice system is different to English, so can be confusing when they have to talk to the Judge and Commissioner and where the boundaries are….It seems Montalbano likes annoying people by playing by his own sense of justice but still…..!