Book Review: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri


The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri’s wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series, featuring Inspector Montalbano.

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner’s verdict is death from natural causes – refreshingly unusual for Sicily.

But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case – even though he’s being pressured by Vigàta’s police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.

The Shape of Water is followed by the second in this phenomenal series, The Terracotta Dog.

 

Whilst this is the first of the book series, it is not the first in the TV series. My review of the exact episode can be found here.

Anyway, the events of the book are very similar to that of the TV episode, so I wont repeat here.  The books is translated from the Sicilian-Italian (a feat in itself, apparently). One of the things i struggle with with the TV episodes, is that not everyone gets named. Turns out, the same happens in the books. There are also things/inference in the show that doesn’t happen in the book.

Also: The relationship with Ingrid happens much earlier in the tv show than the book, with a seemingly different over tone in the book than in the book. In the book it’s Fazio, not Ingrid that takes the car down the waterway.

In Summary: the book is similar to the TV episode (something you should expect when Camilleri writes the screenplay too) but there are enough differences to make it worth the read.  Neither is better than the other, so feel happy in reading this book, and the series as a wole

 

Inspector Montalbano: Equal Time, Collection 3, Episode 2

This is based on another short story, and therefore not based on a complete book.     

The episode starts with two men pulling up in a car, with one getting out and approaching a young blond girl on a moped. Scared, she throws her helmet at him and rides off, with the men giving chase. She nearly loses them a couple of times in the narrow backstreets, but decides to ditch the moped once out in the countryside. The men fire at her as she runs across the fields, missing her, but letting her go.

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Inspector Montalbano: Turning Point, Collection 3, Episode 1

Based on the 7th book in the series, whose English title is “Rounding the Mark“, Salvo turns up to station to find workers getting rid of graffiti. He tries to keep Caterella’s spirits up, but when he goes through the eerily empty station, he decides to call the commissioner. Mimi over hears the conversation and realises that Salvo plans to resign after recent exposes as to police corruption.

 Mimi rails against him, telling him that he may feel betrayed, but his resignation would be a betrayal of those who actually work for and respect him.

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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.

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Inspector Montalbano: Turning Point, Collection 3, Episode 1

montalbano-fazioI cant tell which book this comes from – it’s certainly not known under this name anyway – so cant do a “compare and contrast”.  Salvo turns up to station to find workers getting rid of graffiti. He tries to keep Caterella’s spirits up, but when he goes through the eerily empty station, he decides to call the commissioner (who is out of the office). Mimi overhears the conversation, and realises that Salvo plans to resign after recent raids on the police.  Mimi rails against him, telling him that he may feel betrayed, but his resignation would be a betrayal of those who actually work for and respect him.

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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.

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Inspector Montalbano: Montalbano’s Croquettes, Collection 2, episode 4

Montalbano's CroquettesMontalbano’s Croquettes is not based on one of the books but rather a short story, Gli arancini di Montalbano, which is still not available in English.

When I came to watch this again, I barely remembered watching it the first time around – however, some things fell into place that I know I wouldn’t have spotted the first time round, and that come to play later in the series. In particular the presence of Pasquale, the son of Montalbano’s housekeeper and his involvement in what happens during the episode.

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