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”.

montalbano-3

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…..

Inspector Montalbano: Excursion to Tindari, Collection 2, Episode 1

excursion to tindariThe fifth of the Commisario Montalbano novels, and for once, the episodes match. A young man found dead in street, with a single bullet to the forehead. Emanuele Sanfillipe, aka Nene, has no job, and a mother on small pension, but lives apparently above his means. Initial theory (based on that he was shot in the forehead by a single bullet) is that he’s shot by some one he knows.

Back at the station, Davide Griffo pops in to report his parents are missing. Turns out they live in same place as Sanfillipe, which gives Montalbano an excuse to nip round to get inside. The Griffo’s neighbour (older, v flirty) says the Griffos were very standoffish, and that Sanphillipe had prostitutes around every night for loud sex. It is clear she quite enjoyed listening to the sex noises, even if she pretends otherwise.

Mimi’s been acting distracted, but won’t say why. Caterella is put to work on the computer in Nene’s flat, going through the files and the CDs. Whilst Salvo is watching the evening appeal is made re the Griffos, there’s a knock on the door…it’s Mimi to explain his behaviour. Turns out that he’s getting married….to a policewoman! The two get drunk on whiskey and Salvo wakes the following morning with a raging headache, and Caterella missing….seems he’s been working all night, has found dirty letters, a novel and dirty pictures.

Griffos went on a coach trip to Tindari the previous Sunday with group of others. Nene had a job in computers, but had recently quit and moved out. Investigating his finances, he was found with 3million lire in cash and a cheque for 2million.

Turns out that Mimi has put in a request for transfer to be near his fiancée, but when the commissioner said he was glad because it would break the Mafiosi of the Vigata station up, Mimi took his transfer request back and said he would have to reconsider. Another scene of Italian male posturing, gesturing and pouting.

Mimi gets the job of reading the letters and the novel and has a theory of who the woman is. The bus driver comes in, confirms the Griffos were on bus going out, that they were 30  mins late getting back in, stopping 3 times, but he can’t remember if the Griffos made it back to Vigata.

Montalbano Livia At home, Salvo gets call from Guttadauro, the lawyer. His client, Don Balduccio Sinagra, has reached 90 years old, would  like to see Salvo in private. He has interrupted Salvo in the middle of getting dinner ready, and in the fine tradition of bachelors, Salvo attacks his dinner with a spoon, rather than go back for a fork.

The other people on coach trip get interviewed, some great old actors (believe they are all scicilian). They don’t really remember the Griffos, but one couple makes reference to a Miss Beatrice di Leo, who was on the bus to sell some of her household wares.

Mimi wants Salvo to talk to Ingrid as hethinks Ingrid and unknown woman know each other and he believes he knows who the woman is. Finds it hilarious that Salvo and Ingrid aren’t lovers…

Salvo and Beatrice meet at the local restaurant and eat before interview, neither like talking when eating. Despite Bebe having samples on back seat and coach only half full, Griffos sat on back seat regularly looking out back window.  They don’t get off bus until last unscheduled stop and she doesn’t know if they got back on.  Mimi joins in partway, is distracted by Bebe and Salvo leaves them to it.

Salvo goes to visit mafia man despite Fazio’s warnings. Lovely villa, great set piece, used multiple times in series. Great intimidation piece (it’s where Zingaretti got married in real life apparently).  Shows monied Sicily and power at best. Don Sinagra wants Salvo to believe his grandson Japichinu is sick and doesn’t understand what’s going on. New mafia doesn’t know how old mafia used to do it, and are therefore not playing by the rules. Don Don Sinagra, MontalbanoSinagra has had to take back control. He is not sorry for what he did in the past,  because he did it from faith and principle, which can’t be said for the new guard. There seems little reason for the meeting but I’ve learnt in watching these programs and reading the books that the mafia people here talk in code, saying one thing, meaning another, and Salvo is bright enough to get the hint.

Fazio is put on surveillance detail on mafia priest Crucilla, who was specifically introduced to Salvo by Don Sinagra, and who expects to be followed. Fazio is to follow him, letting Crucilla know he’s being followed w/o anyone else knowing it. He is to lead Fazio to Japichinu. .

The new commissioner,  who doesn’t like Salvo, calls Salvo to the office to point out he does not like fact that Salvo has been seen in cahoots with mafia old guard, but Salvo swings it his way, pretending  Sinagra wants to be informant.

It is only after meeting  that he hears of murdered old Couple that have been shot execution style whilst holding hands.  Fazio catches up with Salvo to tell him the priest will lead them to Japichinu the following morning.

Salvo goes to nenes flat finds videos of Nene with girls, falls asleep with one tape running. Wakes to banging on the door, neighbours complaining about noise, Mimi with his gun drawn. Salvo leaves Mimi to watch all the videos to see whether the lover is who he thinks it is. Sure enough he finds a video and brings it to Salvo, identifying her as Vanja, the wife is the transplant surgeon Isigo. Mimi doesn’t know if Isigo is jealous enough to kill.

The following morning, a team go down to hut with priest to pick up Japichinu, only to find him dead. Salvo doesn’t report finding Japichinu dead, wanting to thwart whatever plan Sinagra is using him for. Meanwhile, photos taken by bus driver confirm that sanfillipe was following the bus to tindari.

Salvo checks the Griffos post office account (nice post office!) to find they have nearly 100,000,000 lire in it, with half deposited in last two years. Son has no idea how they came up with that money, but he does point Salvo to dead aunt’s estate, and Salvo goes to visit Miss Baeri, who has inherited the flat and remembers that  Margherita being left some land and a stable.

People who watch shows like morse tend to dislike the switch between drama, comedy and back again in Montalbano. I’m beginning to like it, and this scene, where Miss Baeri doesn’t let Salvo in, but shuts door whilst she goes to get the will, only to have to call him back as he takes a huff, is a small but amusing scene to me.

Salvo goes to stable and seeing phone lines, breaks, hurting his shoulder. Cue mandatory topless shots of Zingaretti. Goes home to find Ingrid waiting. She rubs cream into his shoulder and he falls asleep. Wakes later and he shows the video of a naked woman Mimi found, and who Ingrid confirms as Vanja. Vanja has left for home a few months back, husband no longer interested in her and is unlikely to kill for her. Ingrid stays the night, in bed with a clothed Salvo spooning – the following morning Salvo is worried they did something more and Ingrid does nothing to allay his fears (In a later episode she complains about his “holier than thou” attitude towards her, when he sleeps with someone else, but still refuses to sleep with her).

Salvo and Mimi talk through theories, about how Sanphillipo and the Griffos are working together. Ingrid rings asking for a meet up as she’s talked to Vanja. The two have dinner on Salvos balcony, making good use of the sun setting into the sea. Turns out that Isigo had walked in on Vanja and Sanfillipe having sex, and Vanja got the impression the two men knew each other pretty well.  Following day, Isigo takes her to airport, sending her home, and telling her to stay away.

Salvo reads the book found in Sanphillipe’s house and finds passages that make him throw up. He gets a call from Sinagra, who claims he needs a kidney transplant, and that he hopes Isigo recovers from his current health scare soon enough to open his clinic again. Putting the phone down Sinagra’s shaking stops, showing he’s not as frail as he linked to make out – he has delivered the message he wanted, knowing that Salvo will understand sooner or later.

Mimi and Salvo discuss the book. Turns out it is a thinly veiled story of Isigo, who is massively in debt, and performs illegal transplants for rich clients, with the body parts taken from people whose remains are subsequently buried or dumped in the sea. Sanphillipo is the intermediary between Isigo and the gangs finding and disposing of the bodies. The illegal transplants also include children (which is what upset Salvo).

Salvo believes that Vanja can provide the link to everything, so she gets sent home to safety, Sanfillipe and the gGiffos are killed. Isigo is kept alive as he is still useful, but likely to be killed the minute he’s not.  Too many important people involved to make this public so salvo and Mimi to do nothing.

Salvo goes to the doctor’s house and finds him sitting on his own in silence. Isigo thinks Salvo is mafia and there to kill him, attempts to bribe and begs him not to. Salvo points his gun at him, Fazio and Mimi break in and chase Salvo, pretending to shoot at him. Salvo’s annoyed they not only followed him, but that he was being that predictable.

Mimi takes the Doctor to headquarters, winding him up enough to make him confess all to the commissioner. Salvo asks Nicolo to make a big deal of it on the news, including that Japichinu was involved and killed by same … He knows he was most likely killed on his grandfathers orders.

Calls Livia as he’s feeling down, she promises to visit following day. Meeting Bebe and seeing how she and Mimi interact, Livia suggests that she and salvo could get married too. For once, salvo doesn’t come up with an excuse. Finishes on some great romantic views over looking the sea, with a huge church in the background

Book Review: The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas

the-olive-branch

It’s amazing what you can buy online these days:
Memorabilia
Fashion accessories
A crumbling Italian farmhouse…

After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee.

But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home.

Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way?

I picked this up at an event organised by Foyles bookshop in Birmingham, where Jo Thomas was one of the speakers. I liked the sound of this book, and the fact that Thomas admits to wanting to write about foreign places, especially about the food, primarily because it allows her to go on holiday to do research!

I will admit that when I read this book, I had just finished a number of books where the main female leads were older (~60s) and getting another chance at love. Therefore it did take me a while to twig that here, Ruthie is about to hit 30, and with her 10 year marriage having just fallen apart.

There was one reference – well into the book – about Ruthie having piercings other than her ears, which whilst unsurprising for a woman of that age to have one, it seemed to be a little odd to include it half way through the book, and then not mention it again. (What does it say about Ruthie? Did Marco get to see it? Did he like it? Hate it? What?)

The chaos of Italian families is described wonderfully, with extensive siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts, and a mother who wants Marco to marry a local girl and who fears that Ruthie could spoil everything. The big dinners, where the whole family sit down and pass food around sound great. Ruthie thinks she knows basic Italian, but is stymied when it turns out that the locals all speak a local dialect so she is flummoxed when she realises she understands little – and it is made worse when she finds out that the house was sold on ebay days before the grandfather died, and she is now the owner of a house the family had expected to inherit.

Being offered half of what she paid for it only makes her determined to make the best of things, and turn the house around into something workable in order to put it back on the market.

Having lived in the “Fixer upper” house in London, Ruthie has already learnt the skills she needs to do up the house (a handy way of not introducing a cast of thousands and Italian planning laws into the book) and with Marco’s help she does gets the house and olive orchard ready. Out of pride she engages Ryan from the local town to help out, only to find out just in time his methods are not traditional or even the best. He also proves to be unreliable, especially when he finds out that Ruthie is not going to be pressurised into doing everything his way. Finally he disappears off the scene, with the implication that the Italians have “made an offer he cant refuse”.

There is a feud going on between two sides of the family (the fathers – brothers – fell out due to Marco’s father’s gambling), Ruthie manages to bring the family back together with her painting skills.  There is the chance of romance between Ruthie and Marco – something his mother disapproves of – and for a long time it looks like it’s going nowhere, partly due to Ryan, and certainly not helped by the late and sudden arrival of Ruthie’s ex husband Ed.  Comedy comes from Daphne the Goat (named after the ex MIL), and Kirsty and Phil the chickens.

Some readers may call Ruthie stubborn, stupid or naive and perhaps she’s a little of all three (why not ask the electrician – anyone – how to light the fire so she could have hot water once in a while?).

This is a summer/Sunday afternoon read when you want to think of Italy, good food, Lemons and olives there for the taking along with your glass of wine. As such it’s not one to think too hard or deep about, just go with the flow and see where it takes you!

#BookReview: Hunting Season by Andrea Camilleri

Hunting Season

Sicily, 1880. When a stranger arrives in Vigata, the town’s inhabitants immediately become unsettled. It seems the young man, Fofo, is the son of a local peasant legendary for his home-grown medicines; a man who was murdered many years before.

Fofo opens his own pharmacy in Vigata and his remedies are sought by many. But he soon finds himself entangled with the local nobility: Don Filippo – a philandering marchese set on producing a new heir, his long-suffering wife Donna Matilde, his eccentric elderly father Don Federico, his son Federico and beautiful daughter Ntontò above all. But it won’t be long before death visits Vigata and the town and its most noble family will never be the same again . . .

Both a delightful murder mystery and a comic novel of huge brio, fired by love and obsession and filled with memorable characters, Hunting Season is the captivating new book from Andrea Camilleri, the bestselling author of the Inspector Montalbano series.

I picked up Hunting Season in a bookshop – a rare purchase of a new paper book in a time of a overwhelming TBR. This is by the writer of Inspector Montalbano series of books, but set in the 1880s version of Montalbano’s Vigata (I believe it’s a precursor in every way, having been written in 1990).

It’s still a detective story of sorts, starting with the arrival of a young man who keeps himself to himself, and proceeds to set up a pharmacy. When the town finds out who he is – he’s the son of a local peasant who was murdered 20 years previously – the book seems to be set up to have him the centre of some mystery.

However much of the book concentrates on the local nobility and the fatal accidents that befall the senior members of the family. Along the way there is plenty of opportunities for sex including what Don Filippo will do to have a son (and who Frederico falls in love with, before he, too, dies…..) and the book is often described as “bawdy”.

There are comic effects along the way too – something that is often taken into Montalbano books and the show which annoys some reviewers. For example, the Marquis is annoyed by the smallest things, one of which being the cock that fails to crow when the Marquis expects and wants him to. Therefore the Marquis decides he needs to give the bird a good talking to

The discussion between the Marquis and the cock took place without the others knowing about it. They realized, however, that the cock had not budged from his intention to do things his way, since they found him with his neck broken

In the end, though we get to find out how many of the deaths were natural, how many weren’t and what was done.  I’m not usually a fan of novels in translation, but I think the translator here has done an excellent job in making this book readable, and I understand that he has managed to convey the underlying tone of someone who regularly writes in hard-core Sicilian

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 police.il 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

https://www.theguardian.com/books/little-library-cafe/2017/jan/12/food-in-books-pasta-con-le-sarde-from-the-terracotta-dog-by-andrea-camilleri

 

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.

Conclusion

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…..!