Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano has garnered millions of fans worldwide with his sardonic take on Sicilian life. Montalbano's latest case begins with a mysterious têtê à têtê with a Mafioso, some inexplicably abandoned loot from a supermarket heist, and dying words that lead him to an illegal arms cache in a mountain cave. There, the inspector finds two young lovers, dead for fifty years and still embracing, watched over by a life-sized terra-cotta dog. Montalbano's passion to solve this old crime takes him on a journey through Sicily's past and into one family's darkest secrets. With sly wit and a keen understanding of human nature, Montalbano is a detective whose earthiness, compassion, and imagination make him totally irresistable.
In the second installment of the popular Italian series (The Shape of Water, p. 454), rumpled Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano receives an unusual offer from crime kingpin Gaetano "The Greek" Bennici (known as Tano), facilitated by Montalbano's childhood friend Gege Gulotta, now a petty criminal and quite the weasel. Facing a health crisis, Tano wants Montalbano to stage a fake raid that will land him safely in custody (and in hospital), for a rejuvenating stay without a loss of face. Montalbano is dubious, but doesn't look this gift horse in the mouth. His superior investigative gifts are at odds with his slacker style, the latter a huge frustration to ambitious protégé Mimi and demanding mistress Livia and the windy police Commissioner, who tries to thrust an unwanted promotion on elusive Montalbano. Montalbano's force resembles the Keystone Kops. Their staged arrest of Tano flirts with hilarious disaster. Ultimately, Tano's enemies kill him, but the escapade leads Montalbano on a twisty hunt from a supermarket picked cleaned of merchandise to a cave where this booty is found, along with a cache of illegal arms. In a neighboring cave lies a 60-year-old murder mystery that becomes a surprising obsession and gives the book its title. The skeletons of two young lovers, long-forgotten, are discovered near the terra-cotta dog, a symbol of sleep from the Koran. Montalbano's investigation focuses more on academic research than witness questioning, but ends with perpetrators very much alive and dangerous. Montalbano's deadpan drollery and sharp observations refresh as much for their honesty as their wit. All he wants is a quiet corner and an uninterrupted afternoon; what reader feelsotherwise?