Inspector Montalbano: The goldfish and the Cat, Collection 2, Episode 6

montalbano-2

On the way to church, Mrs Todaro gets mugged, has her handbag taken, and a revolver is fired at close range but somehow misses.

Mimi comes in to pick up some papers, reminds Salvo re the wedding date and that he needs to pick up the rings, something Salvo has clearly forgotten, again. Meanwhile headquarters are sending cover for the month Mimi is off.

We cut to a priest climbing steps to his church (oh so many steps!) where another parishioner gets mugged. There are great views down to the town, showing how great Sicily looks, even with all those hills.

Mimi and Salvo meet for lunch and Mimi is wondering whether to rent his house out after the wedding. Obviously he still has cold feet and is thinking of a bolt hole. However lunch gets interrupted by commissioner, Bonetti Alderighi, who wants to see Salvo ASAP about the muggings. Since he is getting pressure from the church, Alderighi threatens to hand over to someone else.

Meanwhile there is a madman destroying things at Vigata A&E, and with everyone else out Salvo goes to find out what’s happening. He finds that the man, now sedated, went ballistic when he finds out that his daughter Marluccia is pregnant, giving Fazio a black eye in the process. They meet a Father Vassallo who runs a rehab centre outside Vigata and is sitting with Marluccia who is in shock.

There is a third case for the team with the disappearance of Doctor Saverio Landolino, who had gone out fishing the night before and not come back home. Nothing has been stolen and no signs of struggle, so doesn’t look like robbery or kidnapping.

Example dialogue:
Salvo: What’s happening?
Fazio: Did Caterella not explain?
Salvo: Yes he did, that’s why I’m asking

Mimi’s replacement turns up, an attractive woman called Barbera Bellini, who Salvo hasn’t seen in 12 years.

The following morning, the doctor has still not been found, Fazio meets Barbera and is instantly smitten. Meanwhile Angela lo Porto, the Doctor’s nurse, turns up for questioning. She believes he has been murdered by Ignazio Coglitore, the father who beat up Fazio in A&E, on the grounds that the Doctor got the daughter pregnant. She tells a tale that the girl had turned up a year before, the Doctor had instigated a sexual relationship and an excuse to see her every 2 weeks. Finally she turns up, pregnant, wanting to tell her father. Doctor puts her off, saying he needed to get a divorce and she last came round 5 days previously.

The Coglitores belong to religious cult, with the Marluccia’s aunt is the guru. Coglitore has taken the girl home from hospital and doesn’t let Salvo see her when he visits.

Salvo is buying rings when he hears a gunshot from outside, a woman has been mugged and actually hit with a bullet this time. Forensics have confirmed that the previously muggings have been firing blanks – the question is why?

Salvo returns to the police station to find Mimi flirting with Barbera. Mimi asks Salvo to find someone to rent his house. Salvo rents it out to Barbera, but asks her to go on job first….she gets sent to see the guru, who tells her to make choice between older man she’s known for years (Salvo) and younger man who is yet to make a move (Fazio). She leaves, whilst clocking who else was there including the harpies in the corner, knitting away and taking donations in silence……

She looks for and finds Marluccia, persuades her to escape, to where Salvo and Fazio are sitting with the car, having overheard everything. Girl gets taken to priest’s safe house, with Barbera plans to stay the night, Salvo makes Fazio stay too……

Following day, Mrs Jopollo gets mugged and shot properly…..she’s the sister to the deputy minister Biondiolilo so there’s political pressure almost immediately to get the murder sorted. Commissioner tells Salvo that he’s hanging case over to Limeo from the flying squad. Naturally, Salvo not impressed and walks out, but predicts that another woman will be mugged, with blanks being fired again….

Meanwhile, the Doctor’s wife has withdrawn €2000000 from the bank account of the husband…..Salvo goes to visit Mrs Landolino, only to find she’s left previously, and that the priest has been visiting daily.  Salvo goes to the airport to find the missing doctor and his wife in the check-in queue to leave the country. Salvo makes sure he’s seen but leaves without saying anything. Goes to see the priest who confirms hypothetical story, including how Dr has left priest a chunk of money. Salvo promises that he make up some story for the press.

Another woman gets mugged, but this time she manages to injure the mugger, so there’s a search at the hospitals for someone with a cut hand.

It’s 3am and Salvo gets woken by Beba calling….Mimi is missing. Salvo knows exactly where he is, and goes to the batcheor pad to find Barbera in a towel and Mimi fast asleep. He’s tried to get Barbera drunk to have sex, but failed. Salvo sends him home. Meanwhile Barbera has realised that the dead woman, Mrs Jopollo, had visited the guru, leaving a large wad of cash behind. Mrs Panebianco (the next door neighbour) confirms the story, saying Mrs Jopollo had left in a hurry, believing that her husband was in a critical condition in hospital, leaving her pets behind.

During the interview, Fazio confirms that they’ve found the mugger, who has previous, and was defended…..by Mr Jopollo. Salvo goes to visit Mr Jopollo and puts his theory to him…Jopollo killed his wife over money being given to the Guru every time she visits, but he had forgotten about the cat and goldfish. Jopollo thinks there is no evidence until Salvo points out that they have the accomplice who has confessed.  The other muggings were to hide the fact there was a specific target, and Jopollo picked a petty criminal who he had defended previously.

Later, Salvo and Mimi are out on the evening before his marriage. They meet Fazio and Barbera who are out dancing, and Mimi wants to go for a drink with all the pretty girls, but Salvo sends him home. He almost goes to the bar, but finally decides to go home too……

Shelf Stacking

TBR Shelf 1

My books are currently all in one room, but there are too many just to be on the bookshelves. One of my objectives this year is to rearrange my shelves. They were originally split into “keep” and “let go” but after the last few years the two sets seemed to have got muddled up together. The “let go” books are sandwiched betewen the Crafting “keep” reference books and the Graphic Novel “keeps”.   I can’t even claim to have a “Read” and “Not Read” section any more either!

It doesn’t help that two shelves also include DVDs (I am at a loss as to where to put them otherwise), and whilst I have some of the hardbacks I know I won’t read for a while packed high away, there are books in the series that I have yet to read. Since these latter books are currently in easy reach and I still haven’t read them, what is the chance of reading them if I pack them out of reach?! Perhaps there is a theory there that perhaps tidiness is better than ease in these situations, so perhaps I should bite the bullet?

“Let it go, let it go!”

There is a plastic bin in one corner that holds the books that will ultimately leave the flat.  This bin was overflowing at one point last year, when one of the cafes where we have our bookcrossing shelves closed down for refurb. Rather than lose access to so many books, we spent several weeks removing the books to various parts across the city. This included me taking rather a large number home myself. Thankfully I was able to disseminate a number to others in our extended group, primarily via the bookcrossing uncon that was held in Birmingham last year, and also to other shelves across town. It has  allowed me to visit some places I hadn’t been for a while….much has changed, especially considering some of these places used to be my regular haunts!  I must start visiting places again, and I think this is actually one of my resolutions this year. I must also find out if and when our previous cafe will be opening again and taking books….another set of people I’ve not been in regular contact with.

Book Embargo

I do have some kind of embargo on books coming into the flat, and that held for much of last year. However, I got given a number of books over Christmas and New Year, and I also picked up a large pile of books at a recent bookcrossing event as I didn’t want a collection of books to be broken up.  I also went to a bookstore event and since I had been given a number of book tokens, again over Christmas, I managed to pick up some more books there. Whoops!  I managed to find somewhere to put them, but it certainly didnt help with keeping the place book free!

Do you have books stacked in every room of your house or are you strictly a believer that books belong on bookshelves?

Book Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth Book Review

The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable…. This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn’t Joshua’s world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn’t have a world; he had all of them.

ALL OF THE LONG EARTH.

This is a Terry Pratchett, who is/was one of the few authors I generally buy their books in hardback. It’s been a while since he did a collaboration, but it was around the time that this series was announced it was also announced that Pratchett had early onset Alzheimer’s, which he subsequently died from. There are 5 books in the series, and this is the first, where the whole thing gets started.

It turns out that the Earth we live on isn’t the only version of this world….it seems that there are many other versions, at various stages of development, that can be reached by “stepping” either east or west. Some can do this naturally, some can do it with the use of a little stepping device that is powered by a potato, and some can’t step at all. There is a certain level of resentment in the latter group, especially  rest of their family leave for what they see as a better life and Leave them behind.

We are introduced to a number of main characters through whose eyes we see this new world.

  • Labsong who is a Tibetan consciousness associated with the Black corporation, and it is his money, tools etc that set up finding out more about the non datum earths.
  • Joshua is a natural “stepper” and Labsong gives Joshua the tools to get away from Datum Earth and investigate the other possibilities.
  • In the latter part of the book we are joined by Sally, a natural stepper, who is the daughter of the man who invented the stepping device. Rumour has it that daddy is dead, but there is some foreshadowing that he might turn up in a following book.

This is a relatively slow book, where Labsong, Sally and Joshua are generally left alone to do their own thing. Occasionally they get to investigate new creatures, some benign, some not, and this allows the authors to muse on what earth may have looked like had evolution taken a little detour from what happened on our version of earth.

Finally they come across a massive beast that seems to be the source of Joshua’s unease and Labsong sacrifices his ambulatory unit, if not his consciousness, to be absorbed by the alien in order to find out more.

The focus on the Long Earth for the story made it a bit disconcerting when very late in the book they introduce the idea of the long Mars. Either I was not paying attention in the rest of the book….always a possibility….or this was a very late entry of the idea of alternate other worlds. The fact there is a whole novel dedicated to the long Mars makes me wonder…..

I actually read this book in late 2016, but it’s taken me this long to write a review. It wasnt *bad*, it’s just been really difficult to know what to say about it. In reading other reviews, it seems I’m not the only one. Whilst overall people like/love the book, there are a number of things said that I tend to agree with:

  • It seems more of a number of short stories on a theme, rather than a comprehensive joined up narrative.
  • Whilst there are some amusing scenes that bring a wry smile on occasion, it’s missing the sharp wit of Pratchett that brings up dodgy looks on the bus when you laugh out loud.
  • Labsong and Sally are reasonably well defined and memorable, but Joshua (as the character the human outsider should be able to relate to the most) is the least memorable – it took me ages to remember what his name was!

 

Book Review: Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay

 

Death on the Cherwell Book ReviewFor Miss Cordell, principal of Persephone College, there are two great evils in the world: unladylike behavior among her students and bad publicity for the college. So her prim and cosy world is turned upside down when a secret society of undergraduates meets by the river on a gloomy January afternoon, only to find the drowned body of the college bursar floating in her canoe.

The police assume that a student prank got out of hand, but the resourceful Persephone girls suspect foul play, and take the investigation into their own hands. Soon they uncover the tangled secrets that led to the bursar’s death – and the clues that point to a fellow student.

Received from Poisoned Pen Press, via Netgalley, in exchange for a review.

I’ve been in two minds as to whether to write a review right now about this book, but decided to give it a go. I read this in late 2016, at a time that I became a touch apathetic around reading in general, and this might well have soured enjoyment of any book I read during this time.

This should be exactly my type of book – set in a woman only college, with plucky gels suspecting foul play; their best men friends/brothers being pulled into the investigation (despite them being asked to do unspeakably bad things – like ask their friends questions!; a random Yugoslavian student who may be mad enough to kill; and several older, gentlemanly policemen who have to put up with women going where they shouldn’t.

In reading other reviews of this book to get some inspiration, it seems that other people are able to articulate my general mood – one calls it a “curate’s egg” (i.e. “good in parts”), whilst others say that the story “ebbs and flows”. This is generally what I was thinking, where the conversations between the girls for example are good, but there is far too much time spent working out possibilities in terms of alibis, motives and routes taken. The attitudes of some of the characters are quite old fashioned to modern day audiences, but are very much a product of the time the book was written – and should not be a surprise to consumers of Golden Age Crime.

In Summary: I might well read this book again in the future when I’m in a better frame of mind, and should my reaction change, you’ll find out about it!

 

Book Review: Christmas at the Rekindle Inn by Lori Waters

 

Christmas at the Reindle Inn #BookReviewMary Walker has a habit of giving in when it comes to her mother, but this time her mom went too far. At first glance, the gift seems innocent. Seven days at a lovely Vermont inn in mid-December is Mary’s idea of the perfect Christmas present—that is until she discovers her traveling companion’s identity.

The Rekindle Inn is the last place J.T. Walker wants to spend his Christmas vacation, much less in the company with the woman who’d recently ripped his heart to shreds. A challenge of wills, and the need to show Mary he no longer cares, has him on the plane to Santaville faster than the time it takes to unwrap a candy cane.

The Rekindle Inn specializes in mending relationships, but when the Walkers check in, it will take more than a little Christmas magic to bring these two broken hearts back together. More like a Christmas miracle.

Picked up from Netgalley in exchange for a review, this almost didn’t make it into the Christmas Reading pile, until I was checking my dashboard on the site for another book, and – eeep! It was there ready to read, and my chance of a themed romance was rapidly running out the door!

So: it’s a romance set at Christmas, so you have to suspend any Grinchy-ness if you’re going to survive this book. A week before Christmas, and a month before their divorce is finalised, Mary and JT (Joseph Tanner) (yes, there’s the first of them!), are sent to the Rekindle Inn by their mothers, in the hope they can recover what’s left of their marriage.

They have been separated for 6 months, ever since Mary organised a surprise vacation, only for JT to bail out at the last minute “for work purposes”. Both characters have issues that have contributed to their marriage breaking down – Mary hasn’t trusted anyone since her father walked out on her mother when Mary was 10, and she gives up at the first sign of trouble anywhere in her life. JT has always felt that whatever he did was never “good enough” for his father, so he strove to be the best at his job, whilst neglecting his marriage.  Both of them struggle with communication, with their spouse and family members. Neither have confronted their parents about the trip, or their issues.

Arriving at the Rekindle Inn, the couple realise there is something unusual about the people who make up the staff and the community, starting with the fact that their hosts are called Mr and Mrs Klaus, and virtually no-one is over 5 feet tall. There’s the occasional “slip up” where references are made to “el, I mean staff”.

This is told primarily from the point of Mary, with a little side view from JT.  Some of the secondary characters are more 3 dimensional than others but some are barely sketched.

Once at the Inn, the couple are told about the week’s schedule, which involves time spent apart as well as putting the two of them together as a couple.  Each day is themed, and allows the couple to reflect on what made them fall in love in the first place, and hopefully bring some spark back into their relationship. They do get together – briefly – during the week, but it is the end of the week when Mary’s new boyfriend turns up to pick her up, and JT’s  boss’ daughter continues to try and get her claws into him that almost ruins the reconciliation.  However, as per all good romances, especially one set at Christmas, things work out as wished for!

The Christmas tie-ins were laid on a little thick for my liking, but them’s the breaks. Some people love the book, some people hate it, I found it to be a nice, fast, post Christmas read over lunch one day.

2017 Blogger Resolutions

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done by the end. Many of these are based on resolutions from previous years, which I have had mixed results in achieving.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 12000)
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100)
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks.
  • Post at least twice a week
  • Mamet use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate.
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate.
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments!
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc.
  • do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”.
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing. I still have half a crate left over from the closure of a couple of OBCZs and the bookcrossing UK meetup in Birmingham in September 2016
  • Reorganise my bookshelves (Haven’t been done in two years – about time they’re done!)

State of the Union 2016 address – Resolution updates.

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done at the end of the year. Following are the resolutions I set at the beginning of the year.  As you can tell, I didn’t do as well as I hoped! There was a lull in the second half of the year, which meant that I hardly read, never mind blogged, so that took a large dent in my stats.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers [I still got new followers, taking me up to 773]
  • Double annual page hits to this blog (to 12000) [considering the drop off in the amount of content I was producing, page views remained steady, at a same as last year’s stats]
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100) [i went some way to this, in getting to 690]
  • Read and review 75 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks. [i did a much better ratio of paper to ebooks, but didn’t hit the 75 mark, coming in at under 60 books.]
  • Post every other day [as I mentioned above there was a period I didn’t blog for several weeks, so missed this goal]
  • Make better use of hashtags on twitter [the increase in followers on twitter is due in part putting out other content than my own, as well as making use of tags]
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.  [Yes, this was done, especially by About and Review Policies]
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate. [the death of my laptop late the year has meant that I haven’t used the spreadsheets that I used to use for tracking scheduling. However, what’s wrong with a simply diary?]
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments!  [I did run out of subjects that I inspired to produce a post for, but I’ve found some more and will be posting some new content in the new year!]
  • Pay better attention to sites like Problogger and Hubspot for social media and blogging tips to see how I can achieve some of my goals [I did follow some additional sites in looking at producing content etc, but I don’t think I made best use of them. I certainly tried to comment more on other people’s blogs – not all of them about books, and attended several blogging events. I even managed to go to this year’s Bookcrossing event where I got some of my mojo back in terms of reading and releasing books – look out for more on this in the new year – I hope! ]

So, did you have any goals, and how did you do? Feel free to comment or link to your update post!