Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories

Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories

Book - 2016
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"Inspector Montalbano has charmed readers in nineteen popular novels, and now in Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories, Andrea Camilleri has selected twenty-one short stories, written with his trademark wit and humor, that follow Italy's famous detective through highlight cases of his career. From the title story, featuring a young deputy Montalbano newly assigned to Vigàta, "Montalbano Says No," in which the inspector makes a late-night call to Camilleri himself to refuse an outlandish case, this collection is an essential addition to any Inspector Montalbano fan's bookshelf."--
Publisher: New York, New York :, Penguin Books,, [2016]
ISBN: 9780143121626
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY CAM
Characteristics: xvi, 538 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Sartarelli, Stephen 1954-- Translator


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Aug 05, 2016

The Brits have Morse, the French have Maigret and the Italians have Montalbano. Very similar and yet unique in their national contexts.

The stories are easy to read and the plots not very complicated. But it is the interleaving of the Inspector's character and personal life within the crime solving that makes the stories delightful to read. The interactions between the police characters are lively with frequent more-than-gentle ribbing. Much more realistic and engaging than the bone-dry, too-sanitized characters of over-hyped Michele Giuttari in Italian crime fiction.

The stories aren't really short (the first one runs about 120 pages) but the character treatment is more like in a short story and each story stands by itself. The plots don't get too dark and are suitable for all audiences (although the language is often strong and "colorful").

The only negative is the English translation which like so much of Italian fiction don't just get translated but rephrased, as in this case, for US readers (e.g., reference to Indianapolis race track rather than Monza as an Italian might use - even if he is related to Mario Andretti). So sometimes it feels a bit like eating American Italian versions of Italian recipes losing the original character.

But an annoying problem is the translation of the variations in language for characters in the original which is always difficult for a translator. For example, less educated or working class characters or from a different region may speak a different vernacular or with a different accent. The author has several such characters and the translator has adopted a lazy method of writing the proper English sentences for the translation and then randomly contracting or misspelling the words which just makes them annoying to read. For example, "'Cause you axed me if Isspector Augello talked t' me poisonally in poisson. An' in fack i' was 'is goilfriend 'at called" or from another character "I'd like f' see whachoo'd do ...". Reader has no idea if the character is from a different region or educational level or has a speech impediment, it all sounds the same and artificial.

May 20, 2016

Excellent storytelling, great characters and all in Sicily. Imaginative and entertaining...great summer read or any time for that matter. Highly recommended.

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