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by Andrea Camilleri and Stephen Sartarelli, trans.
Penguin Books, March 2013
288 pages
ISBN: 0143122614

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's about time Italian Inspector Salvo Montalbano took a vacation. And more than about time for his long-suffering girlfriend, Livia.

But that's not going to happen anytime soon. Their vacation plans are spoiled at the last minute when Montalbano's trusted Sgt. Giuseppe Fazio goes missing. No one really knows why, but they believe Fazio was furtively working on a case, one which took him to the port. Montalbano gets so wrapped up in trying to find Fazio that he forgets about Livia and their now-ruined plans.

The investigation ranges from a Mafia cemetery, where two other bodies are found (but no Fazio), to a hospital where Montalbano becomes smitten with a young nurse, Angela, his "angel." He and his team eventually put the pieces together, although the crucial turning point comes when Montalbano remembers a seagull he had seen on the beach days before a bird that did a final, strange dance before he died. It sparks a sudden revelation.

As usual, Camilleri manages to blend pathos, darkness and humor in his story. There are true laugh out loud moments, such as when Montalbano, trying to evade his commissioner, says he can't make a meeting because he has to undergo a medical procedure, a "double Srockson." The made-up procedure is so embarrassing in detail that the commissioner immediately gets off the phone as Montalbano begins describing it.

In this, the fifteenth book in a series, Montalbano, 57, also grapples with getting old. He considers he is going through "andropause." He's reacting "like an old man, with his emotions on his sleeve and tears always ready to spill."

He may be getting older, but Montalbano is still razor-sharp and just as good as ever at outwitting everyone from criminals to commissioners.

Lourdes Venard is a newspaper editor in Long Island, N.Y.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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