The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri (Inspector Montalbano 11)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Food, love, and murder-Sicilian style-in the gripping eleventh installment of The New York Times bestselling Montalbano mystery series.

Things are not going well for Inspector Salvo Montalbano. His relationship with Livia is once again on the rocks and-acutely aware of his age-he is beginning to grow weary of the endless violence he encounters. Then a young woman is found dead, her face half shot off and only a tattoo of a sphinx moth giving any hint of her identity. The tattoo links her to three similarly marked girls-all victims of the underworld sex trade-who have been rescued from the Mafia night-club circuit by a prominent Catholic charity. The problem is, Montalbano’s inquiries elicit an outcry from the Church and the three other girls are all missing.

My impressions:

I jumped right in the middle of a very long series (this one is the eleventh part and not the last, far from it) and felt immediately at home. Say what you might, Mr. Camilleri knows how to narrate a story, capturing along the way the Italian climate from deep south (Sicily). Still while I liked the protagonist, Salvo Montalbano, and his love life crisis,  the criminal case he had to solve was quite another story.

A mysterious woman, young and pretty, with a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder, was as good a victim as anybody but the treatment her sad remnants got sometimes bordered callousness. I know, I know, all those old policemen are the same, who would care about a young immigrant from Russia even if she was beautiful enough to catch more than one dispassionate glance. But it grated, time and again, especially when confronted with all those descriptions of Mediterranean food and wine consumed on a tessellated patio of a villa. Yes, the Italian police stations might lack gasoline, the courts might have no paper, the hospitals no thermometers but still plenty of hopefuls from different countries think Italy is the garden of Eden. And then they find out to their cost that it is like any other country.

Final verdict:

My feelings are mixed – I was drawn and repulsed by the protagonist in equal measure. Perhaps I am going to try another part of this series to clarify some points.

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6 Responses to The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri (Inspector Montalbano 11)

  1. blodeuedd says:

    I look forward to hearing more then

  2. Carole Rae says:

    Sometimes a good story is one you love and hate equally.

  3. heidenkind says:

    You had me at food, love, and murder. 🙂 At least they didn’t title it The Girl With the Sphinx Tattoo.

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