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5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing.
Andea Camilleri's Silvio Montalbano series has been best seller material in Europe for years----just recently translated for the U.S. market.
Camilleri's reserved and nimble writing style loses nothing in translation.
Montalbano is a highly respected, cultivated Sicilian police inspector.
In "The Shape of Water," the body of a local, well-connected politico...
Published on Dec 17 2003 by nobizinfla

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Italy for Killers
Salvo Montalbano is an Italian detective who lives in a small town in Sicily. Unlike many American detective novels where the protagonist is tough and hard boiled, Montalbano is refined, and cultured. He is known in the community to be fair minded and kind with a love of fine food and finer women.
When a important official in town is found dead in a seedy area...
Published on Dec 15 2003 by Brett Benner


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Italy for Killers, Dec 15 2003
By 
Brett Benner (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Salvo Montalbano is an Italian detective who lives in a small town in Sicily. Unlike many American detective novels where the protagonist is tough and hard boiled, Montalbano is refined, and cultured. He is known in the community to be fair minded and kind with a love of fine food and finer women.
When a important official in town is found dead in a seedy area Montalbano investigates with his own style and charm.
The book, the first of four, has been translated from Italian, and the books are bestsellers in Europe. While enjoyable, it was an adjustment from what I'm usually used to reading in regards to mystery novels. Much of the book deals with life in an Italian town and the heiarchy that exists there, as well as the political climate. A glossary in the back provides translations from everything to local police customs to money exchanges. While giving you a definite feel of time and place, it didn't always engage me like I hoped it would. Still, it's an enjoyable and quick read if you're looking for a mystery series that's different in tone and locale.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri, Dec 9 2003
By 
H. Row "in1ear" (Arvada, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli (Translator)
The way that I read books is to start 3 or 4 at a time, When I become bored with one I just pick up where i've left off with another. If one is particularly interesting I can literally finish it within a few days. My genre of choice are mysteries from NY Times Best Sellers to relative unheard of or long forgotten writers. So, I was quite excited when Penquin books / Viking Press offered to send me copies of four of Mr Camilleri's mysteries which have been translated into English to read and review.
Unfortunately, Andrea Camilleri's Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano The Shape of Water has been almost impossible to read. The books are quite a departure from what most American mystery readers are expecting. There are several murders, no car chases, nor fist fights, nor shoot outs. That isn't necessarily why I can't say I didn't like the books.
I recently read and reviewed Alexander McCall Smith's "Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, where there are no shoot outs, etc and was thoroughly entertained by the series.
I think what was lacking for me from Mr. Camilleri's books were something to relate to from an investigators process in solving the main and then the subsequent crimes. When I finally finished the book , the crime was solved and I had no idea HOW it was solved.
After The Shape of Water, I know what to expect from other books in the series. I'll give the other books a shot and see if it was just me and this particular work of the author
John Row
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4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing change, March 14 2004
Andrea Camilleri's "The Shape of Water" is the first in a series of Inspector Montalbano mysteries, only recently translated to English. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by interesting characters, a mystery I didn't figure out in advance, and a protaganist with many layers, who is serious, intelligent, self-depracating, and quite funny!
The story begins with the discovery by 2 garbagemen of a local politician, dead in a car, with his pants around his ankles. Detective work in Sicily is quite different than what you would expect in the US. But Inspector Montalbano performs his job largely independent of supervision and is fairly free to follow up in whatever way he pleases.
The pace is relaxed, and the book does not have your typical action-adventure style. Everything is revealed in a very matter of fact style in a storytelling manner, rather than one action scene to the next. Not to worry though, there are plenty of questions to be answered here, and Montalbano gets to them in his own good time. He manages to fit in a love interest, and some fantastic gourmet food as he goes about his days. His gastronomic interests are amusing in themselves.
I don't want to go on about the story itself here, it might spoil the surprises for the readers. Suffice to say this was a very enjoyable read, with plenty of plot twists, that will make you want to read the rest of the series. Highly recommended to mystery lovers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good introduction to excellent series, Feb. 11 2004
The body of a well known politician is found with his pants down, literally. But instead of a coverup, his lawyer suggests calling in the police. Police Inspector Montalbano is suspicious, but the autopsy says the death was natural--a heart attack. Still, Montalbano insists on keeping the case open, investigating what really happened. Because in Sicily, where the Mafia remains strong, the truth can be as malleable as water.
Montalbano's investigations probe political corruption, sexual deviance, and Sicily's underworld, but the evidence seems clear. The only question is, who was the beautiful girl who abandoned the minister when he died.
THE SHAPE OF WATER is the first in a really fine mystery series by author Andrea Camilleri. In WATER, Montalbano is already a fully developed and intriguing character with a strong moral sense and an attractive disregard for the letter of the law. Hints of his passion for the taste and smells of Sicily come out although these are more fully developed in later books in the series.
Camilleri's mystery is fully engaging and Montalbano is a great character. Although I didn't find THE SHAPE OF WATER quite as compelling as some of the later novels in the series, it is a highly enjoyable read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Camilleri Develops a World-Wide Audience, Feb. 2 2004
By 
L. Quido "quidrock" (Tampa, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In a grotesque death, Sicilian politician and wealthy engineer Silvio Luparello, is found in a remote "pasture", or the equivalent of a lonely stretch of land where prostitutes ply their trade in their clients' cars. Garbagemen find the car, and the body, with its pants around its knees, and we are immediately struck by how much effort is expended to downplay the incident and cover up the cause of death. Into this mess comes well-respected middle-aged Inspector Salvo Montalbano, a life-long resident of the fictional Sicilian coastal town of Vigata.
The novel follows Montalbano's clever and well-manuevered search for the truth; letting the reader meet local politicians, Montalbano's friends and colleagues, the family of the dead man, and a mysterious and roundheeled woman who races cars for a living, and is somehow entangled in Luparello's death. In a sidebar, Montalbano also makes the acquaintance of the garbagemen, and learns of a serious healthcare crisis with the child of one of them.
As he researches the case, Montalbano breaks a lot of rules, but delicately, becomes chagrined over the affections of a young police officer (the daughter of his old friend), makes time to woo his own love, Livia, in Genoa, and flies under the radar of town leaders, religious leaders and his superior officers, all of whom want him to close the case quickly, and admit that Luparello dies of natural causes.
The reader develops an appreciation for Montalbano's subtlety, and his art in acquiring delicious food from friends, restaurants, and his own kitchen...Montalbano loves a good meal. The cynicism and humor are subtle here, poking gentle fun at Sicilian political customs, such as a killing where everyone hopes the death was a Mafia hit, so that they don't have to search for the real cause.
I've read so much that's good about the work of author Andrea Camilleri (a citizen of Rome, now age "70 ", author of screenplays for Italian television, producer and director for TV and the theater, and award-winning novelist and short story writer) that it was inevitable that I would find the time to start his "Inspector Montalbano" series with "A Shape of Water".
I must admit I'm puzzled as to how the title ties into the story, but know this -- I probably won't stop until I've read them all. At this point, 4 of the 7 novels have been translated into English. First published in 1994, this novel has been translated into 8 languages, and began to circulate in English in 2002. The translator, American Stephen Sartarelli, does a fine job, and, although there is a breakdown from time to time in sentence structure, Sartarelli provides three dozen notes in the back of the book, to help Americans understand Sicilian customs and culture. This goes a long way to breaking down the barriers to the book.
Having not yet read the remaining books, I believe that they probably succeed in developing tighter story lines, and allowing us to build on Montalbano's quaint idiosyncracies. Hopefully, they'll include more of his childhood friend, Gege, who is now Vigata's leading pimp...
"Salvo and Gege were listless schoolboys, learning their lessons like parrots".....(now as adults)..Gege: "And I tell you in my own interest. Because for a big cheese like Luparello to come and croak at the Pasture, isn't good for business....Can I go now? These are peak hours at the Pasture."
One word of note, this work, and probably that of the following novels, is graphic in the use of foul language and sexual situations. If this bothers you, you're not going to want to read on.
I'm definitely impressed and am going on to read the next books in series, with the hope that the international audience is right...Camilleri just keeps getting better and better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, fresh and funny., Jan. 30 2004
By 
L. Quido "quidrock" (Tampa, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In a grotesque death, Sicilian politician and wealthy engineer Silvio Luparello, is found in a remote "pasture", or the equivalent of a lonely stretch of land where prostitutes ply their trade in their clients' cars. Garbagemen find the car, and the body, with its pants around its knees, and we are immediately struck by how much effort is expended to downplay the incident and cover up the cause of death.
Into this mess comes well-respected middle-aged Inspector Salvo Montalbano, a life-long resident of the fictional Sicilian coastal town of Vigata. The novel follows Montalbano's clever and well-manuevered search for the truth; letting the reader meet local politicians, Montalbano's friends and colleagues, the family of the dead man, and a mysterious and roundheeled woman who races cars for a living, and is somehow entangled in Luparello's death. In a sidebar, Montalbano also makes the acquaintance of the garbagemen, and learns of a serious healthcare crisis with the child of one of them.
As he researches the case, Montalbano breaks a lot of rules, but delicately, becomes chagrined over the affections of a young police officer (the daughter of his old friend), makes time to woo his own love, Livia, in Genoa, and flies under the radar of town leaders, religious leaders and his superior officers, all of whom want him to close the case quickly, and admit that Luparello dies of natural causes.
The reader develops an appreciation for Montalbano's subtlety, and his art in acquiring delicious food from friends, restaurants, and his own kitchen...Montalbano loves a good meal. The cynicism and humor are subtle here, poking gentle fun at Sicilian political customs, such as a killing where everyone hopes the death was a Mafia hit, so that they don't have to search for the real cause.
I'm recommending this book wholeheartedly. I've read so much that's good about the work of author Andrea Camilleri (a citizen of Rome, now age "70 ", author of screenplays for Italian television, producer and director for TV and the theater, and award-winning novelist and short story writer) that it was inevitable that I would find the time to start his "Inspector Montalbano" series with "A Shape of Water". I must admit I'm puzzled as to how the title ties into the story, but know this -- I probably won't stop until I've read them all.
At this point, 4 of the 7 novels have been translated into English. First published in 1994, this novel has been translated into 8 languages, and began to circulate in English in 2002. The translator, American Stephen Sartarelli, does a fine job, and, although there is a breakdown from time to time in sentence structure, Sartarelli provides three dozen notes in the back of the book, to help Americans understand Sicilian customs and culture. This goes a long way to breaking down the barriers to the book.
Having not yet read the remaining books, I believe that they probably succeed in developing tighter story lines, and allowing us to build on Montalbano's quaint idiosyncracies. Hopefully, they'll include more of his childhood friend, Gege, who is now Vigata's leading pimp... "Salvo and Gege were listless schoolboys, learning their lessons like parrots".....(now as adults)..Gege: "And I tell you in my own interest. Because for a big cheese like Luparello to come and croak at the Pasture, isn't good for business....Can I go now? These are peak hours at the Pasture."
One word of note, this work, and probably that of the following novels, is graphic in the use of foul language and sexual situations. If this bothers you, you're not going to want to read on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh, Sicilian air!, Jan. 29 2004
By 
L. Quido "quidrock" (Tampa, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've read so much that's good about the work of author Andrea Camilleri (a citizen of Rome, now age "70 ", author of screenplays for Italian television, producer and director for TV and the theater, and award-winning novelist and short story writer) that it was inevitable that I would find the time to start his "Inspector Montalbano" series with "A Shape of Water".
I must admit I'm puzzled as to how the title ties into the story, but know this -- I probably won't stop until I've read them all. At this point, 4 of the 7 novels have been translated into English. First published in 1994, this novel has been translated into 8 languages, and began to circulate in English in 2002. The translator, American Stephen Sartarelli, does a fine job, and, although there is a breakdown from time to time in sentence structure, Sartarelli provides three dozen notes in the back of the book, to help Americans understand Sicilian customs and culture. This goes a long way to breaking down the barriers to the book.
Synopsis of the plot:
In a grotesque death, Sicilian politician and wealthy engineer Silvio Luparello, is found in a remote "pasture", or the equivalent of a lonely stretch of land where prostitutes ply their trade in their clients' cars. Garbagemen find the car, and the body, with its pants around its knees, and we are immediately struck by how much effort is expended to downplay the incident and cover up the cause of death. Into this mess comes well-respected middle-aged Inspector Salvo Montalbano, a life-long resident of the fictional Sicilian coastal town of Vigata.
The novel follows Montalbano's clever and well-manuevered search for the truth; letting the reader meet local politicians, Montalbano's friends and colleagues, the family of the dead man, and a mysterious and roundheeled woman who races cars for a living, and is somehow entangled in Luparello's death. In a sidebar, Montalbano also makes the acquaintance of the garbagemen, and learns of a serious healthcare crisis with the child of one of them.
As he researches the case, Montalbano breaks a lot of rules, but delicately, becomes chagrined over the affections of a young police officer (the daughter of his old friend), makes time to woo his own love, Livia, in Genoa, and flies under the radar of town leaders, religious leaders and his superior officers, all of whom want him to close the case quickly, and admit that Luparello dies of natural causes.
The reader develops an appreciation for Montalbano's subtlety, and his art in acquiring delicious food from friends, restaurants, and his own kitchen...Montalbano loves a good meal. The cynicism and humor are subtle here, poking gentle fun at Sicilian political customs, such as a killing where everyone hopes the death was a Mafia hit, so that they don't have to search for the real cause.
Having not yet read the remaining books, I believe that they probably succeed in developing tighter story lines, and allowing us to build on Montalbano's quaint idiosyncracies. Hopefully, they'll include more of his childhood friend, Gege, who is now Vigata's leading pimp...
"Salvo and Gege were listless schoolboys, learning their lessons like parrots".....(now as adults)..Gege: "And I tell you in my own interest. Because for a big cheese like Luparello to come and croak at the Pasture, isn't good for business....Can I go now? These are peak hours at the Pasture."
Camilleri succeeds in zigzagging around in a satisfactory way, opening our eyes to the culture and humor of the Sicilians. One word of note, this work, and probably that of the following novels, is graphic in the use of foul language and sexual situations. If this bothers you, you're not going to want to read on.
I'm definitely impressed and am going on to read the next books in series, with the hope that the international audience is right...Camilleri just keeps getting better and better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars His first Inspector Montalbano novel, Jan. 13 2004
If you read the publisher's review you'll get a really good idea about what this book is about. So, should you read it? Yes. And who am I to say you should? Why should you read this? Do you like mysteries? Have you been looking for something a little different but still interesting, intriguing perhaps? Do you like you're protaganist's to be down to earth, humanely defective, but intelligent and with a sense of good taste? And I do mean a sense of taste for the finer foods in life. Inspector Montalbano is one cool cop with a few ticks that make him intriguingly funny and obtuse. This novel is witty and has a few new twists that are different from American/English writers. At first you may find that this novel "reads" a little differently from what you're used to. The names of people and places in Sicily may be a little overwhelming too at first, but don't give up! Read on! The story is so good that you'll find yourself reading it and the names and the different style will become a pleasant experience that may just lead you to read more of this great Italian writer, Andrea Camillera. I rated it 4 stars instead of 5, because having read the next two in the series, "The Terra-Cotta Dog" and "The Snack Thief", which are both 5 stars to me, this one was good but not as good. But it's a good book and a good introduction into the world of Andrea Camillera's sleuth, Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Highly entertaining. Try it, you'll like it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Italian police novel, Dec 23 2003
By 
Linda Oskam "dutch-traveller" (Amsterdam Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Inspector Montalbano of the police force in the small Sicilian town of Vigata has to investigate the death of Silvio Lupanetto, an engineer and local political hotshot of the reigning christian democratic party. Mr Lupanetto has died of a massive heart attack while having sex, but the place where his body is found is suspicious: why would a cautious man like him go to the local prostitute and drug area? The inspector's investigations give a nice insight into Italian wheeling and dealing: sex schandals, rich people with an attitude, the Mafia, left versus right, corruption and bribing. In short, everything we Europeans suspect Italy to be. Italy is a lot more, but in this novel there are only hints of good food and drinks, a great culture and a lovely countryside.
The book is written in a very fluent style and the story has a number of twists and turns which makes it an enjoyable read. I would say 3 stars, so let's make it 4 because this is the first book of a series and character of the inspector may still grow.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Five Star Ending for the First Inspector Montalbano Story, Dec 18 2003
By 
Tucker Andersen (Wall Street) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the first book in a series of police procedurals featuring the Italian Detective Salvo Montalbano. The series has become very popular in Europe and has been the basis for an Italian television series, so Viking decided to purchase the American rights and publish an English language version. It has been translated from the original Italian in a pleasing manner by Stephen Sartarelli, an American poet and translator. (Since I have no familiarity with Italian, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation, and whether the stylistic and linguistic differences from American police procedurals are a function of the translation or a faithful reflection of the original text.) This book was originally published in Italy in 1994 but was first published in the US in 2002. Subsequently, three additional volumes in the series have been translated and published here very quickly.
Inspector Montalbano is awakened by a phone call from his Sargeant to inform him that they have a new client, a local big shot politician named Silvio Lupanello. That Lupanello is now their "client" means that Lupanello's dead body has been discovered and it is up to them to investigate the circumstances surrounding his demise. And the manner of his death coupled with his position in the community lends both some urgency and some delicacy to their task, since he has been discovered in the passenger seat of his parked car with his pants down around his knees in a section of town frequented by prostitutes and others engaged in various unsavory and illegal activities. Because the coroner finds no evidence of foul play and there are obvious political ramifications, Montalbano's superiors want him to quickly close the case, but there a few loose ends that trouble both him and also the victim's wonderfully portrayed widow.
As the investigation proceeds, the contradictions deepen. If this sounds like Peter Falk's portrayal of Columbo in the long running TV series, in many ways it is. However, there is more profanity, and Montalbano's character idiosyncrasies are fully developed. He is equally adept at enjoying the merits of a good meal or discussing the book WESTERN ATTITUDES TOWARDS DEATH. There is some wonderful humor, and I was gradually drawn into the story line as several various threads were woven together after a somewhat slow beginning. I was very surprised and pleased by the somewhat unexpected but appropriate solution which cleverly tied together all the disparate elements of the case which had been unearthed by Montalbano. This is really a first rate ending, which is one of the most important elements to a successful police procedural. And woven throughout the story are some elements of the detective's romantic involvement as well. In addition, this is an easy book to read. It is short, the story is told in an uncomplicated manner, and there is a short section of notes at the back of the book to explain references to Italian currency, political structure, etc. that may be unfamiliar to Americans. The setting is a fictional town in Sicily, so there is no need for any reader familiarity with specific geographic detail. Another nice feature is the fact that this is one of those Penguin soft covers that really are pocket sized, so they conveniently fit in a corner of your bag or coat pocket and are easy to read on the train or plane. Finally, you will have to read the book to find out what is THE SHAPE OF WATER and why it is the perfect title for this book, I won't reveal the secret here.
While I was contacted by an employee of the publisher and asked to review the most recent book in the series, I wanted to introduce myself to the character as the author intended and decided to read the first volume to determine if the series was of interest to me. Based on my enjoyment of this story, I definitely plan to further enjoy following Detective Montalbano as he attempts to solve additional cases. As a disclaimer, I know no one employed by the publisher and have had no contact with either the author or translator. However, I believe it appropriate to disclose that as is customary I was furnished a review copy of this book but I did not provide any assurance that I would produce a review or what its contents would be if I did so.
Tucker Andersen
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The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri (Paperback - May 31 2005)
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