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The Potter's Field [Paperback]

Andrea Camilleri , Stephen Sartarelli
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2011

A New York Times bestseller, Winner of the Crime Writers' Association's International Dagger and longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Witty and entertaining, the Montalbano novels by Andrea Camilleri-a master of the Italian detective story-have become favorites of mystery fans everywhere. In this latest installment, an unidentified corpse is found near Vigàta, a town known for its soil rich with potter's clay. Meanwhile, a woman reports the disappearance of her husband, a Colombian man with Sicilian origins who turns out to be related to a local mobster. Then Inspector Montalbano remembers the story from the Bible-Judas's betrayal, the act of remorse, and the money for the potter's field, where those of unknown or foreign origin are to be buried-and slowly, through myriad betrayals, finds his way to the solution to the crime.


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Review

“…one of the best installments in the entire Inspector Montalbano series.”
(-The New York Journal of Books)

About the Author

Andrea Camilleri is an internationally bestselling author. He lives in Rome.
Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator and poet. He lives in France.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montalbano's Newest Outing Is A Doozy! Oct. 10 2011
By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"The Potter's Field" is the 13th novel in Andrea Camilleri's series about Sicilian Inspector Salvo Montalbano, and as the series continues, our favourite detective ages; he may be near the end of his run here, or at least he's contemplating retirement. Montalbano is called to the very wet and muddy scene of a hideous find, that of a plastic bag containing a body that's been cut into 30 pieces. The murder was committed some months previously, and the man's face had been obliterated, his fingers and toes removed and all identifying features destroyed, except that a partial dental bridge is found in the corpse's stomach. From that small clue, it is up to Montalbano and his team to first determine the identity of the victim and then, if possible, the culprit. Alas, the team is not in the best of shape for such a cryptic task, as Mimi Augello, Montalbano's second-in-command, has become surly and disagreeable, which makes working with him quite difficult, especially as Mimi wants Montalbano to give him the case to solve entirely on his own. It is only when Montalbano's girlfriend Livia tells him that Mimi's wife is upset because Montalbano is sending Mimi out at all hours for late-night stake-outs that Montalbano begins to realize what is wrong with Mimi; but how serious his situation is and how is connects up with the murder inquiry is even more worrisome than the possibly-Mafia-connected death itself.... As always, Camilleri is in fine form describing the ins and outs of life in contemporary Sicily, and his cast of usual characters are all as compelling as ever. I had an idea of who the culprit was by about the half-way point, but the clever author made me doubt my conclusion and led me to an even more alarming possibility; it's always a good thing to be properly fooled in a murder mystery! Read more ›
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
'Let his dwelling place be desolate,
And let no one live in it';
and,
'Let another take his office.'"
-- Acts 1:19-20 (NKJV)

It's hard to know what to praise more: the engaging story by Andrea Camilleri or the superb translation by Stephen Sartarelli. Since I can't read Italian, I'll just split the difference in sharing with you that The Potter's Field is a terrific book. If you like police procedurals, The Potter's Field is an exceptionally fine example.

The plot, while impressive in its complications, takes back seat to the marvelous character development in the book focused on Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his friend and subordinate, Inspector Mimi Augello.

Mimi is grumpy all the time . . . and seems to be blaming Montalbano for whatever the cause is. Mimi's behavior is also uncharacteristic. What could be the problem?

As in all of the best Montalbano stories, the inspector relies more on careful thinking than on fieldwork or crime scene investigations. He even draws on analysis of his own dreams to figure out what's really going on. As such, Montalbano is more in the grand tradition of Nero Wolfe than the 86th Precinct.

Before long, Montalbano understands what's probably going on and realizes that he has a problem: Mimi is in a delicate position from which only Montalbano can extract him. How will looking out for a friend work with trying to locate a murderer?

Andrea Camilleri rewards his readers with lots of humorous scenes, ironically funny references, and just-plain slapstick.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  56 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montalbano gets older, slower & slyer Oct. 3 2011
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Inspector Montalbano devotes most of his time in this book to long lunches, slow driving, unofficial inquiries, evasive maneuvers, avoidance of duty and irresponsible acts. He's nearing retirement age and tells himself he's getting ready to fade out. But in truth, he's much sharper than any of his young officers.

A bag containing a dismembered body is found in a field. The owner sells the clay in his field to potters, so you could call it a potter's field. There's a biblical allusion here, but I'll leave it to you to figure it out. Better yet, read the book!

The delicious complexity of the plot creeps up on you, so I won't say anything about it. I was only calmly interested for a while but finally got inextricably caught up.

In this book we watch Inspector Montalbano shed crocodile tears and real tears. We see him at odds with his own detectives. We watch his appetite go from poor to ravenous and back, more than once. He's subjected to the allure of a spectacularly gorgeous young woman and the mature charms of an old lover. He examines his conscience and is startled by what he finds.

In other words, this book, like every Montalbano mystery, is a feast of surging Sicilian emotions interspersed with mouthwatering Sicilian dishes that we eat vicariously with the inspector. Comic moments abound. And Montalbano's excitable assistant Catarella has plenty of opportunities to garble messages and barge explosively through doors.

If you're only just discovering Andrea Camilleri, I envy you. You have all his books ahead of you. I'd suggest reading every one. If you're a Montalbano fan, I think you'll be quite delighted with this latest arrival. I was.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benissimo Oct. 3 2011
By Blue in Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another witty and entertaining ramble with Inspector Salvo Montalbano through the criminal peccadilloes and charms of Sicily. "The Potter's Field" provides a clever mystery plot, terrific characters and a continuing insightful look at Sicilian culture and society, which only nominally resembles its Italian counterparts (according to author Andrea Camilleri, at least).

In "The Potter's Field", Inspector Montalbano faces a murder case that begins with the discovery of a chopped up body in a bag; a mini-rebellion and malaise at his police station; and the daily personal struggles with the human aging process. The strongest part of this fine crime novel is, as always with author Camilleri, the interplay of the wonderfully colorful characters. There are times when you can imagine Fellini orchestrating this rich mix. The procedural element of the story is relatively transparent, but Montalbano's deductions and moves toward solving the central crime of the book are not, and therefore the book's conclusion(s)--to the reader's pleasure--is invisible until the last few pages.

This book has it all--an intelligent and engrossing plot, great characters and entertaining cultural notes (Montalbano is a gourmand whose many encounters with Sicilian cuisine are recorded by the author in minute detail). Highly recommended.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best one yet! Oct. 8 2011
By Ellen Wertheimer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book. The detective piece of it is terrific, as excellent as any of the Montalbano books. The emotional piece of it is unusually satisfying. This was actually a bit unusual for a Montalbano story, in that they can be a bit bleak, at least in overall effect. This one, on the other hand, was glorious. I have just this minute finished it, and the world looks a lot brighter than it did.

A fabulous detective story and novel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as people make it out to be March 28 2012
By ATB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I hate to say this, but after reading "To each his own" by Leonardo Sciascia, I found this read mediocre. The books are very similar, as if one author copied the other. Of the two, I found "To each his own" the superior. The plot of "The potter's field" was exciting up to a point. Once I figured out who committed the murder, which was super easy and which happened halfway though, I began to get bored. Camillerri gives away too much information earlier on instead of saving it for the last few pages. If you are looking for edge of your seat suspense, look elsewhere. The dialogue was funny though. I appreciated Camilleri's sense of humor, but that's not the reason I chose to read this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars transformed once again Oct. 5 2011
By dogmom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have avidly read each of Camilleri's books as they come into translation. As a Sicilophile and lover of soft mysteries I have loved each book.
The author makes me feel I am in Sicily again and I love Salvo with all his many human qualities. I think there is a great job of fleshing out the main players and the feel, smell and taste of the area...a great, great read...the translation is as exquisite as the story....very tasty stuff
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