Inspector Montalbano, The Scent of Night, Collection 2, Episode 5

The scent of the NightThis is the 6th book in  the series, but slightly later in the TV series. The episode starts with Salvo turning up to a hostage situation, where the 80 year old Garzullo is holding Miss Consentino, the secretary of banker Gargano, hostage, claiming to have been robbed by Gargano. Salvo resolves the issue by pretending the banker has already been arrested, so holding the hostage is pointless. As usual, it’s great use of old Sicilian actor as the wronged man.

Salvo questions Consentino, who seems to have immense trust in her employer, even though she has no idea where he is and doesn’t seem too concerned she hasn’t seen him for  a month.

Gargano had arrived 2 years previously, had attracted a decent number of clients, paid 20% interest after 6 months only to finally disappear close to the payout date. Mimi thinks Gargano has conned a Mafiosi and got himself killed as a result – Guarnotta from the Montelusa fraud squad agrees with him.

The Commissioner calls, demanding Salvo to be over in his office immediately, something Salvo is not prepared to do. He goes for a walk on the beach and finds out that during a nearby house renovation, the old olive tree has been uprooted. Angry, he takes a spade to the windows of the building site nearby.

Salvo fakes an accident, arrives in the Commissioner’s office with a bandage on his head. Commissioner has found out via anonymous tip off about Francois, and has formed a negative opinion of the whole affair, deciding Salvo has stolen the savings book, and essentially trafficked Francois to Mimi’s sister.  Salvo manages to prove that he left savings book with a notary, having not touched a cent of it and lets it be known to the Commissioner.

Giacomo Pellegrino (uncle to the Giacomo Pellegrino who works for Gargano) comes to report vandalism to a house he’s renovating. Both Salvo and Fazio realise this is the house with the uprooted olive tree that Salvo damaged in anger.

Mimi is out on wedding leave, something Salvo has forgotten, even though he is the best man. A month previously, the nephew visited the uncle to tell that he had to go to Germany on business and was expecting to be away a month.

Salvo goes to visit Michela Manganaro, the other employee. She lives with her parents who are seriously deaf. Cue lots of shouting, especially from neighbours who come out to see what’s happening. It becomes clear she’s already been interviewed by Mimi and she knows him well enough to know he’s distracted and soon to be married. Salvo leaves, she gets dressed, they meet later for her to be questioned. She’s quite a flirt, comes onto Salvo only for he to reject her. She believes both Pellegrino and Giacomo are gay, have probably slept together, but that Pellegrino would never have been sent away for a month on business.

That evening, Mimi pops round just as Salvo is about to eat. He hits the whiskey, pouring out that he’s got cold feet about the wedding. Cut to later, we find Salvo has fallen asleep on couch, his food untouched. He takes himself to bed only to find Mimi already there, dressed but nursing the empty whiskey bottle.

The following morning Fazio has found notes to say Gargano’s car had been seen, but the witness (Tommasino) is unreliable as he is believed to be delusional.

Cesare Bocci
Cesare Bocci – Mimi

Mimi comes to the office to say that the wedding has had to be postponed because Beba’s father had heart attack. Salvo is pissed that Mimi has told Livia before him.

Salvo visits Miss Consentino again. She’s surprised at Pellegrino’s visit to Germany. She gives over Pellegrino’s Vigata address, so that Salvo can interview the landlady, who says he moved out even earlier, expecting to come back to his own place.

Following a visit to see Francois, who expresses a desire to become a policeman like Salvo, Salvo sends copies of adoption papers to commissioner, threatening slander if commissioner brings the subject up again.

The team find that Pellegrino had booked flights to Germany but he never got on it, having changed his ticket. They work out where he stayed the night before he was due to leave…the house under renovation.

Salvo wants to talk to Tommasino, the guy who reports seeing things not there. Tommasino explains that he’s very much like his grandson, who he plays with, and has developed the tendency to see things that aren’t there, but often knows they’re not real. If they can agree the three headed monster isn’t real, but that cars are, why should he not be believed when he reports he’s seen a car?

Salvo takes Tommasino to the spot there he saw the car, and when sea is less rough, Salvo goes diving, finding Gardano’s car at the bottom, with a dead body in it. Salvo visits Manganaro, who gives him some info to think about, including that secretary has large house just outside Vigata and definitely had a thing for Gangarno

Fazio has found that Gargano has paid Pelligrino 350000€ in the last year, probably blackmail money as Pelligrino has realised what Gargano is up to. Blackmail has Gargano meeting Pelligrino on the beach the 31st August, shooting him and putting him in the car. Gargano hides as Tommasino comes walking past, then pushes the moped and the car into the sea.

Fazio investigates Consentino more and for once his in depth info allows Salvo to realise she is the niece of Miss Cusuco, the older woman we met in episodes 1 & 2. Mrs Cusuco tells how niece was a little strange, OCD and delusional, refusing to accept things when her father died, keeping his corpse in the house for 3 days.

Salvo goes to visit Miss Consentino, but she gets knocked down in the street outside the office. He takes her home, she shows him round the house, leading to the guest room, where the decomposing corpse of Gargano is laid out. She is acting dazed and as if there’s nothing strange or wrong with the situation. Now in pain, she finally agrees to have the doctor called. Having known her a long time, the doctor understands Salvo’s  request to have her sedated  long enough for Salvo to call in Guarnotta from the fraud squad to finish it off. Whilst he waits, Salvo imagines that Gargano has turned up at the house after killing Pelligrino, stays the night and it’s during the night that Consentino kills him.

The episode finishes with a return to site where the killing took place, where Salvo gets to look out to sea, all moody.


Inspector Montalbano,The Artist’s Touch, Collection 2, episode 2

Apparently this story is the first one not based on a book, and it makes a departure from the usual opening (of Salvo swimming or being woken by Catarella). Instead it starts with a close up intricate metalwork art being made. Sitting on the workbench, there’s a book titled “Manuscript found in Saragossa”.


A beautiful woman makes early morning visit to an old man called Alberto, there’s lots of mist outside and inside the garden, it’s all very atmospheric, and overall nicely shot. However, inside it’s not mist but smoke which is the result of a fire, and the woman finds something shocking. The coolness and dampness is a good contrast with the next view, which is an inside view looking out onto Salvo’s balcony where he takes his breakfast coffee. Caterella rings to advise of a Russian woman (“Larussa”) being found dead in suspicious circumstances.

This “Russian Woman” is in fact Alberto Larussa, a jeweller that Salvo knew through Livia. Confined to a wheelchair for the last 31 years he seems to have strapped himself into a home made electric chair and killed himself.

The woman who found him is Anna, who is the niece of Larussa’s neighbour, a distant friend to the police and Salvo in particular. Salvo is very charming and flirty, gets a lot of info whilst not giving anything away, something Anna picks him up on.

Meanwhile Mimi is investigating the death of Ignazio Cucchiara a loan shark who had been found shot dead, with no clues or murder weapon left behind.

Larussa, though teetotal, had apparently downed a bottle of whisky before his death. Forensics think it’s suicide, Salvo is not convinced and after the evening news report, a witness comes forward to report seeing car race out of house when he’s walking his dog. Once again great use of old Scicilian actor, with sarcasm, humour and old man repetition.

Caterella proves to be useful as the only one to know how to use the Internet…. Dialup, how quaint! They get a copy of the book found on the bench beside the dead man, but it takes Livia to point out author of book died the same way as Larussa and perhaps its a message. Livia is down for the funeral (since Larussa has made stuff specifically for her), Salvo doesnt attend the funeral himself but picks her up after and Livia spots Salvo’s reaction to Anna but when she questions him about who she is he is vague about her. Salvo spots someone else at the funeral and puts a trace on the car.

Salvo gets another 48 hours to investigate before case gets closed as a suicide. He starts searching the house, cue the use of some great interiors, and he finds a photo album with pictures cut in half…who is missing? A revolver and a copy of the will also found. The person named in will is the person seen by the witness driving way early one morning…it’s the dead man’s brother Giacomo who has yet to come forward. Working with handwriting experts, they establish the will is a fake and it turns out the brother is the man Salvo reacted to at funeral. When they bring him in for questioning, he seems resigned to what ever happens, expecting a kafka-eske experience.

Giacomo is delivered to jail but even Fazio has doubts as to his guilt. During his interview Giacomo says there would be no point faking the will in his favour as he got everything anyway under his father’s will. He was bankrupt however, withdrawing all his money in last few months. However he seems resigned to being in jail though he claims to be innocent of his brothers death.

Salvo interviews the lawyer who looked after the family business. Turns out both men were in love with the same woman, Emma – she’s the one in the photo. She was in love with both but ultimately choose Alberto who did not become crippled in riding accident but by falling down stairs…or was he pushed? Other clues come to the surface to indicate that this was all a ruse by Alberto to get his brother jailed for his death.

Salvo picks up Livia who is down for a visit as he takes a holiday. He pops into work to give them an update, and is stopped by Mimi, who cannot find any reason who killed his loan shark. By fluke Salvo recognises a name of one of the witnesses….it’s Emma. Everything slips into place. Giacomo has been paying her debts, but has run out of money, he goes to Alberto who refuses the money, so Giacomo takes Alberto’s gun, shoots the loan shark Cucchiara, returns the gun to Alberto’s house, not realising that Alberto is already dead.

zingaretti-1Giacomo is arrested for death of loan shark – it’s decided thatAlberto’s death is a suicide designed to get back at the brother.  Salvo allows Giacomo to visit Emma one more time, then allows Mimi the arrest of the loan shark’s killer. He goes home to find Livia (who he left alone in the car hours earlier) asleep on a chair on the balcony. Somehow she forgives him…..

Montalbano: The Terracotta Dog, Collection 1 episode 4

Montalbano - the terracotta dogBook two and Episode 4 of the Commisario Montalbano series, this starts out as an investigation into a Mafia influenced robbery and arms-cache but decends into the investigation of a cold case.   Salvo stages an arrest at gun point to bring in Tano the Greek – an old man from the old style Mafia. On being transferred to another prison, Tano gets ambushed….there’s a mole in the police. Tano dies but not before he talks to Montalbano, who passes on what was said to the commissioner.

Meanwhile a Vigata supermarket gets raided and the following morning, a truck, still full of stock is found abandoned outside of town. The manager comes in to report the theft, which appears to make no sense – why abandon the truck nearby with the stock still in it?

Based on what Tano has told him, Salvo and the team go looking for a cave up in the mountains, finally finding it and it’s full of weapons and police uniforms.

Salvo’s old headmaster comes to visit, giving him some history of the cave, including the name Lillo Rizzitano. Lillo’s father and grandfather sold stuff on the black market, but it is not known if Lillo survived Allied bombings of 1943 when his house was flattened.

Forensics find some paper in the cave that seems to link the guns to the supermarket robbery. Salvo outlines his theory to the commissioner, that the gun runners used the supermarket to stash the guns following a gun fight, and the two men agree to keep things under wraps.

On a subsequent visit to the cave, Salvo realises it isn’t symmetrical and in pulling the fake wall down, the team finds two bodies guarded by a terracotta dog. Pasquano thinks they have been dead at least 50 years and not killed there.

Mimi complains to Salvo about feeling left out, including not being part of the Tano arrest. There is some almost stereotypical Italian male behaviour, with waving of hands and much sulking/pouting at each other in a kinda macho way. Ultimately Mimi is told to do things Salvo’s way or else. However he ignores the advice and puts a tail on the Supermarket manager.

At their usual meeting place on a deserted runway, Gege warns Salvo that the new guard in the Mafia are offended by Salvo bringing Tano in and it is whilst they are talking that gunmen open fire, killing Gege.  Salvo kills one of the gunmen, but gets shot trying to take down the second. Salvo blames Mimi for getting him shot – by insisting that he gets pulled in on the supermarket case, he puts a tail on the manager, which alerts the Mafia, who then target Salvo – not knowing it was Mimi who had ordered the tail. Turns out lots of people know about their meeting spot, including half the commisario

With Tano dead and Salvo out of action whilst he recovers, the case is effectively closed.    Livia comes to stay whilst Salvo recovers. (I believe that in the book, it is 3 women, not just Livia who comes to watch over him). Once out of hospital, Salvo visits Gege’s mother and they reminisce about the two men growing up together before he gets fed with foodstuffs that are probably not right for a man missing part of his colon.

The headmaster’s wife remembers a school friend (Lisetta Moscatos) who disappeared at same time as Rizzanto, as well as other names – including Mario Tumino.  It’s not entirely clear as to why Salvo takes Livia to the scene (he has caught a courting couple making out here previously), but it ends with her initiating them making out – as usual there is effective use of low lighting, making sure the scene is lit well.

At the public event for the mayor opening a tunnel, a plane flies overhead trailing banner saying Lisetta and Mario. The plane drops leaflets announcing their “reawakening”.

Salvo takes a couple of days off work and waits at home for a call. Cue moody staring off sea, and  topless shots of him swimming. Finally the phone call comes from some one who was there (Lillo Rizzitano, Lisetta’s cousin). Lisetta had run away after being raped by her father. Lillo reunites her with Mario, then leaves them alone. He comes back to find his Uncle Stefano (Lisetta’s father) looking for his daughter, raging like a wounded lover. It’s not Stefano who kills the pair but a hired killer who breaks into the house the following day and shoots them both whilst they sleep. Lillo buries the bodies in the cave, glad they are together forever.

As the old man takes a nap on his bed, Salvo finds the letter Livia has left him before she left, telling him that despite his selfishness and her fears she still loves him.

In writing this review, it seems there are some differences between the book and the show (I’ve only seen the latter), so it’ll be interesting to see what the differences actually are when I get around to reading the book.

Here is a piece on one of the dishes mentioned in the book


Summertime Reader and Blog challenge – Random Non-Book Related Post

Parajunkee Summertime week 2

Post 7 from Parajunkee’s challenge and it’s random non-book related post time! I came to Inspector Montalbano via the TV series when it was shown on BBC4 – long before I knew the books were there. Whilst I’ve watched all the episodes available to UK viewers, some more than once – I’ve only read two of the books (so this is how this is not a book related post!).

The show is set it the fictional Vigata in the very non-fictional Sicily. The sets are stunning, not just the interior of the houses, but when the characters are walking around the city (which is actually multiple locations, not only in Sicily but often in Rome too).  It’s not all roses, with many of the houses having shoddy interiors, and there are occasional visits to the outside brothel and the farmer huts.  However, there are also places like Castle Donnafugata the “house” of one of the mafia godfathers.

il commisarioOnly one of the shows is set during the blaze of summer – August Heat – and in checking out the series in more depth, it is frequently asked “how can they go around in those heavy wool overcoats and leather jackets?”  The answer is that most of the scenes are filmed in the winter, when it’s off season and relatively cold!  I can see why now, as he’s getting older, Zigaretti (the actor) is spending less time swimming in the sea outside his house!

The show has been running on and off since 1999, and has resulted in a tourist trade much like what Inspector Morse brought to Oxford when it was showing on the TV. I’m not one really to go on tours of film locations, and Sicily is not that high up on my list, but I think it’s worth a visit  (BBC2 also has a show called “Sicily Unpacked” that delves into the art, food and history of the area, which gives a different and interesting spin on things!)

Inspector Montalbano, The Voice of the Violin, Collection 1, Episode 2

The Voice of the violin reviewThe 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 inspector-montalbano-collection-1anonymous 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…..!

Inspector Montalbano, The Snack Thief, Collection 1, Episode 1

MontalbanoIn the UK, BBC4 started showing Inspector Montalbano in their Saturday night Foreign Crime Drama slot. I was late coming to the show, and certainly hadn’t read any of the books – it’s rare for me to do book AND visual media: I tend to do one or the other.

In 2014, I flicked through the shows on BBC4, but didn’t know where they sat in the general running order. In 2015, I paid more attention, to the point that I requested (and got) the box set for a Christmas present.  Whilst I haven’t read the corresponding books, I have watched all the episodes and am now offering my take on them in future ad hoc posts.  Where I know about or have read the corresponding book as well, I will try to do a “compare and contrast”.

The Snack Thief is number 3 in the Commissario Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri, but the first episode of the TV show (released in 1999) and we’re immediately being introduced to things: the early morning phone calls from Caterella, Montalbano (with a surprising amount of hair on his shaved head) swimming in the sea, the photogenic Mimi, Fazio (looking shockingly young),  Nicolò the TV news anchor man, lots of swearing you don’t get on the BBC subtitles, Livia, and Caterella’s issue with the door.  My numbering of episodes will go in conjunction with the box set, rather than the release date (so collection 1 etc).

The Snack Thief, MontalbanoOld man Lapecora is found dead in his apartment block lift with bottle of wine at his feet and a knife in his back. We get to see Montalbano’s interview technique, especially when confronted with neighbours more interested in a bottle of wine and their own reputations than their dead neighbour.

Meanwhile, the Tunisian shot dead on a boat in international waters is initially investigated by Mimi, but the investigation is moved to the harbour office at the decision of the Commissioner.

We get to learn more about Montalbano’s home life, with him loving food, especially pasta with broccoli, and that Adelina, his housekeeper is the mother of a criminal he arrested previously.

It turns out that Lapecora has a Tunisian mistress called Karima, they used to meet at his office away from his wife. Montalbano finds that Karima and her son, François, have left the night before, leaving behind a bank book with 300 million lira in the account. Meanwhile, there’s uproar at a local school when it appears that someone has been stealing the children’s food …. The snack thief of the title.

Livia arrives in town and you can see why Katharina Böhm was chosen as the actress, despite not speaking Italian……not only is she beautiful, but willing to do some frontal nudity during her first scene. Livia not the only one to go bare chested, I have to admit, with Montalbano rarely getting through an episode without his top off, one of the few ways you can track time passing, getting to see Zingaretti’s weight fluctuate…

In talking to Livia, Montalbano realises who the snack thief is, and stakes out an area, managing to catch the child. Livia, having come on the stakeout, montalbano-bohminsists on bringing the child back to the house. Salvo realises just how broody Livia is, and they start talking about getting married in order to adopt François (for that is who it is) and some heated words are said by Livia about their relationship and Salvo’s selfishness.

Whilst watching the news, François recognises the dead Tunisian as his uncle. After a plea on TV, a witness comes forward having seen Karima with Fahrid. The reg number for the car turns out to be a secret service car, and it spooks Salvo to the point he makes François disappear with the help of Mimi and Fazio.

Salvo manages to link the death of the old man to the Tunisian, who was actually Karima’s brother and a terrorist, who had been lured to Sicily to set up a base, only to be betrayed and killed. In turn, Fahrid starts to tidy up the witnesses by killing Karima, with Lapecora having been killed by his wife for bringing his mistress into her house.

The secret services pay Montalbano a visit and they put things in context. They are worried that things might leak out, so ask him to name his price…it’s Karima’s body. When the secret service man refuses, Salvo plays his trip card….the video recorder on the bookshelf. The following morning the body is “magically” found, with only Montalbano knowing he had messed up the recording.

François is staying with Mimi’s sister in law in  the countryside, whilst things are sorted out.  The episode ends with Salvo coming to terms with what Livia had said to him about François being the son they will never have, and he proposes that they get married.


There’s lots of information dumped on you as a viewer, without you necessarily knowing what’s happening – it’s only having seen later episodes first (and the occasional documentary) that I know what to look for. This being number 3 in the book series, I wonder how much has been defined in the previous books – they’re rather slim (in English) so I suspect not. It helps that Camilleri helped on writing the series as well as the books.

There’s some quite moody lighting, especially around the conversations with the secret service, and I think it makes Zingaretti look rather good and brooding. I’ve done some calculations and he must be in his mid-30s when he made this episode.

Due to the fact that I don’t speak Italian, it was only after doing some investigations that I realise that Zingaretti says his lines in Italian and Böhm  says her in English and is dubbed after. There is a certain chemistry between the two, despite neither speaking the other’s language well enough – it was only on repeated viewing that I could spot Böhm speaking English (by lip reading). I believe that the director wanted a certain look (wide-eyed blond beauty) that Böhm delivered – and the language barrier was easily enough passed in post-production.

What was a nice touch – if you pay attention, the actor who plays François is the same actor all the way through, from 5 till 20-something. It’s the only acting work he’s done, and I find it a lovely continuity that not many long-running series will pay attention to.