Inspector Montalbano #3: The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri

Read: 26 November, 2012

I was introduced to Inspector Montalbano on a trip to visit my dad, who has lately been burning through the series and couldn’t stop raving about it. While I was there, we watched a couple of the TV shows, and then dad sent me The Snack Thief as a birthday present.

I can be quite picky about mysteries. I find that too often they rely on withholding information or on giving the characters absurd ideas or quasi-psychic insight to reach the correct conclusions, and that’s frustrating because it makes me feel lectured to, rather than an active participant in the solving efforts. The Snack Thief handled this perfectly – all the information is presented to the reader as it’s discovered, and any withheld information had good reasons for being withheld. When Montalbano thought that the answer lay in one direction, it’s what I would have guessed as well. When he was wrong, I was wrong too, and not frantically yelling at him to just please think about Clue X.

The characters are fantastic – they are all, truly, characters, with very amusing quirks and details. Even small side characters aren’t spared the gift of personality. While it may seem like an odd comparison, it reminded me somewhat of A Song of Ice and Fire, except, of course, that the quirks and details were funny rather than depressing and horrifying.

I highly recommend this book and, more broadly, the Inspector Montalbano series. It’s a quick read, easily finished in an afternoon, but it isn’t fluff, and it’s hilarious. My only advice would be not to read it on an empty stomach!

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Mistress of the Art of Death #4: A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

Read: 24 June, 2010

Adelia Aguilar has been enjoying a simple life with her daughter and friends, but King Henry II has come for her again. This time, he needs her to accompany his sister, Joanna, to Sicily. To ensure that Adelia returns when the task is completed, he keeps her daughter in England as a hostage. As the procession makes its way, strange things start to happen and Adelia is suspected of witchcraft.

There isn’t much to say about this that hasn’t been said for the last three books. If you’ve enjoyed the last three, you’ll enjoy this one too.

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