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    Review of VOICE OF THE VIOLIN by Andrea Camilleri (see his website)


    Viking/Penguin, November 2003 (English Translation), 1997 original Italian version

    When his police car hits a legally parked car, Inspector Montabano has to hurry on to make his appointment. Still, he's surprised when he passes by that evening and sees the car, unmoved, his note still in the windshield. Acting on a hunch, he picks the nearby house's lock and discovers the reason why no one investigated. A beautiful woman lies smothered in her bed. Montabano begins an investigation, but is soon taken off the case. The police leadership wants faster results and more modern methods. But these modern methods lead to a police shooting and a cover-up--one that the Mafia quicly learn about and that threaten to give them power over the police. Acting against orders, Montabano decides to re-open the investigation. He's got to find some way to find the real killer, end the coverup, and eliminate the possibility of giving the Mafia blackmail control over the local police.

    Author Andrea Camilleri (see more reviews of novels by Camilleri) takes his time with this mystery, giving us details of life in modern Sicily. The smells, tastes, and passions of Italy come through clearly in Camilleri's story-telling. Montalbano makes a fine protagonist with his strong cynical streak balanced by an idealistic desire to find the real killer and to protect his police force. Montalbano's personal problems (the failure of his attempt to adopt and the deterioration of his relationship with Livia) add to the character depth and his relationship with his fellow officers gives the story just the right comic touch.

    I enjoyed the way Camilleri brought in the political aspects of police work. When necessary, Montalbano used television reporters and political pressure to get at the truth. U.S. fans will also get a kick out of the way Montalbano refers to American cops and the U.S. justice system.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/11/03

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