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Andrea Camilleri: The thief of sweet things

The author's hero, Commissario Salvo Montalbano, is a gourmet who likes to have a sumptuous - and extensively described - meal in his local pub between the investigations or who appears to witnesses as if by chance at mealtime.

Later breakthrough

A connoisseur when it comes to sex and good books, someone who determines more passionately than according to the regulations - a Sicilian. Andrea Camilleri, himself a Sicilian by birth, owes his great, albeit late, breakthrough to this intelligent and well-read figure.

It wasn't until the screenwriter, director and writer of historical novels and burlesque turned to the crime genre in the mid-1990s that he catapulted himself onto the Italian bestseller lists. In 1998, the 73-year-old even took eight of the top 10 places. And last year it also captured the hearts of German readers.

Place of action: Sicily

So now the third Montalbano thriller has been translated. And it plays - of course - in Sicily, in the fictional town of Vigata. There are two murders at the beginning, which at first glance have nothing to do with each other: A Tunisian sailor is shot dead under mysterious circumstances on a fishing boat during a night trip and at the same time a businessman named Lapecora is found stabbed to death in the elevator of his house.

Montalbano first investigates the Lapecora case, quickly realizing that he - although retired - still frequented his office regularly, not to work, but to indulge in the joys of love with his cleaning lady.

Deceptive appearance

Every now and then the businessman's nephew turns up in this office, while the betrayed wife receives anonymous letters at home. And yet everything is very different from what it seems: the nephew is not a nephew, the wife is not just a pitiful victim; the double life of the aging Lapecora had a high price even before the murder.

And cleaning lady Karima, an attractive Tunisian with additional income - the experienced crime reader suspects it - is the link to murder number two. With which the case finally takes on a political dimension, in which so-called civil servants are also involved.

Local flavor of Sicilian life

Without straining the Mafia as a villain, Camilleri has succeeded in creating a novel with "The Thief of Sweet Things", which - like its two predecessors "The Form of Water" and "The Terracotta Dog" - is an exciting story with the local The color of Sicilian life connects.

Even if the peculiar language in the translation is difficult to understand - in the original a mixture of dialect and standard language - the German reader once again opens up an Italian region through a crime novel: After Venice through Donna Leon and Florence through Magdalen Nabb Sicily.

Bulky character

Andrea Camilleri

But in contrast to the two women, one American and the other English, Camilleri was born in Sicily and lives in Rome. And his inspector - although he shares a passion for food with his two literary colleagues Brunetti and Guarnaccia - is cut from a somewhat different cloth, all in all more bulky and sometimes a bit off track, in the eyes of some colleagues even completely crazy.

So far he has avoided familiar family life - a safe haven for Brunetti and Guarnaccia. But that may change in the next volume, the marriage proposal has already been made.

Incidentally, a serious problem for the Sicilian Montalbano fans, who are strictly against a marriage to the northern Italian lover. After all, they let the author know on a book tour that there are enough nice girls in Sicily. The inspector, that much is certain, will also solve this difficult case.

Andrea Camilleri
The thief of sweet things
Luebbe, 2000
ISBN 3785715137
EUR 17.00