Book 1), The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano

By Andrea Camilleri

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
burt
I was excited to read the first of this series but sorry to discover that the poor translation made the read choppy, stilted and seem dated. The main character, Montalbano,is one I would have loved to pursue, but I don't think I'll spend any more of my time on this series.

A decent story line and some interesting relationships and characters but the translation got in the way. Most unfortunate.

If you read Italian, I would suggest reading this in its original language; I'm sure it would be much better.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jotong
There’s little of that celebrated Italian charm in The Shape of Water, the first in Andrea Camilleri’s widely-read series of crime novels featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano. The book is set in the town of Vigata in Sicily, where corruption reigns supreme and murder is nothing out of the ordinary. In this quaint but unpleasant setting, the incorruptible Inspector Montalbano routinely finds his work to be rough going. He’s frequently described as charming. But the story isn’t.

The body of the region’s political boss is discovered in blatantly compromising circumstances, setting off a chain of puzzling political juggling acts. There is pressure from all sides on Montalbano to close the case quickly. It seems that everyone insists the old man died a natural death. Montalbano doesn’t believe it. He doggedly sets out to understand what happened and finds himself caught up in a web of intrigue and betrayal that tax him to the limit. Corrupt judges, a political hatchet-man, the Mafia, and a gorgeous six-foot Swedish blonde (as well as a gorgeous young gay man, also blond) all figure in the story.

Given the stereotypes of Sicily so popular in literature as well as the news media, it’s tempting to think that Camilleri’s picture of the place is fitting. To my mind, though, this stretches the imagination.

I thought Donna Leon’s latest Commissario Brunetti mystery was awful. Perhaps I just can’t wrap my mind around anything Italian. My one visit to the country was unpleasant, too. So it goes.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kim taylor
I am sure this is a great book. This is the first in his series. The translation is correct in the words used however the sentences and overall writing is off. Not impossible to read but i find myself re-reading sections trying to figure out what the author was trying to convey.
The Shape of Water :: Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (French edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) :: From the Creative Team Behind the Celebrated Movie Series :: The Stranger I Married :: and Other Obsessions - Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jamie f
I bought the first three of Camilleri's books, mostly to read on a vacation in Sicily. I'd done the same with Donna Leon's books on a trip to Venice and enjoyed mixing fiction and setting. But I found these books less enjoyable.
The stories are in themselves mostly enjoyable, with some particularly clever parts, but all three were quite vulgar, with generous doses of very crude sexual and homosexual banter. It seemed so contrived and stereotypically alpha-male macho, and did not add to the story or the characters. I can accept that a certain amount of this kind of thing might find it's way into stories involving pimps, prostitutes, murders, mafioso, and the like, but it just didn't add to the story at all, and seemed more out of place in otherwise well written story. Is this here to titilate us? Spare me, please.
I did go ahead and read all three, so it wasn't enough to stop me from reading what I'd brought along, but I won't buy any more.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
amy elliott
It's almost always a pleasure to read novels which take place in countries one has visited and loves. I was so looking forward to reading a "new" author. Unfortunately, the sentences were so long and convoluted, one became confused and frustrated in just a few pages. I gave up. Perhaps it was due to the translation. Apparently, these books are very popular, so I am obviously in the minority.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
halsted mencotti bernard
This novel was somewhat of a disappointment as I had hoped it would be on a par with a series written by Donna Leon. It definitely was not. Maybe that was because I don't find Sicily as appealing as Venice. It was still worth the time reading it.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
pandit
I was looking for a new series to read, so thought I would try this one, since it's the first. After reading all the complimentary reviews, I expected to really enjoy the book and to go on to others. I didn't like any of the characters, including the main one, so this is it for me. Many of the characters seemed like poorly developed stereotypes.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
anke
I should have read the sample. Instead I relied on the reviews. After just 5-6 pages I gave up. Its hard to believe that anyone who actually gave this book 4-5 stars actually read it. The sentences are so looooooong and disjointed that I had to keep back tracking. It maybe just a poor translation, but I suspect the problem goes deeper.
Fortunately the book wasn't expensive, but I do hate being ripped off. Any advice on getting a refund would be greatly appreciated.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
sarah callis
I ruined my vacation read (to Italy, none the less) on this book. It is impossibly flat-I had to read the first chapter 3 times because I felt like I had to be missing something- and to me, under developed. It seemed like so much was left out in regard to introducing characters, and then just having them evaporate. Aside from the style and mechanics of the story, it was horribly lewd. It was disgusting to read, however, when I realized that this was a 70 year old man writing I was sufficiently repulsed; I assumed that discretion came with age. Don't get me wrong, I understand that certain characters are lewd, therefore lewd acts and language are required. However, this was over the top and unnecessary. I can usually find a bright spot in every book, but not this one. Reader beware!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
pragati
Inspector Montalbano may be the least corrupt policeman in Sicily. He leads the murder investigation in this book which is the first of a series featuring him. The first book in a series can be tricky as the author must develop the lead and continuing characters and develop the setting. This book never engaged my interest. The characters were confusing and not well developed. The plot was obscure with a distinct lack of tension and interest. The pacing is slow, and there is almost no action. Sicily is not a part of Italy that I know, and this book did not make me interested in going there. In contrast, for example, Martin Walker’s Bruno books and Ann Cleeves’ Shetland Island books both have a much stronger sense of place and I view that sense of place as an asset. Of course, their characters, plotting, pacing, and writing are also more to my taste as well. This first book did not engage my interest, so I doubt that I will read any more of the series.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
john kissell
I am not sure how to rate this book. I was expecting somehing along the lines of Police Chief Bruno, only with an Italian and Sicilian twist. Salvo Montalbano is a police inspector in Vigata. Vigata is located on Siciy and the Mafioso is a big player on the island as everyone knows. Well Slavo is no Bruno, and these books are much lustier than Martin Walker's wonderful series. I guess to be a true classification, this would be a noir mystery rather than a police procedural. The book begins with a very well-known local government man found dead in the passenger seat of his car with his pants and underwear around his knees. Salvo at first think it's murder, but it turns out the death is from natural causes, but that means that a whole slew of criminal types are trying to cash in on it for their own political and personal reasons. Things get really messy, and so does the book. I found the book difficult to follow and difficult to keep the characters straight. I'm not sure if I'll read more in the series or not. I love the setting, and Salvo shows some promise, but Mr. Camilleri needs to offer more insight into Salvo's thinking as he's working through a case. It's hard to catch up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gianna
I was completely charmed by this series. The narrative eludes the formulaic rigor of most modern detective stories without losing the plot. The crimes are complex, verging on convoluted, and the path to solving them - I think - reflects the culture and the terrain. This is not a book for people who are linear thinkers. Our hero is kind of like a Sicilian Columbo and the book is populated with a terrific range of characters, many of whom appear later in the series. I thought the author did a great job with selecting interesting locations and didn't sound maudlin or like a history book or a tourist pamphlet. And the violence was not sensationalized. I loved the idiosyncrasies of this book and I couldn't wait for the detective to go home to dinner so I could research another recipe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifercsheppard
It took me some pages to get into the flow of this book. I always wish I was fluent in every language, as I'm sure Camilleri's words were beautiful in their original form. Even in translation, however, this was a marvelous read.

Our mystery book club chose Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series, and I was able to get the first book in the series. I was surprised that I started and finished it on the same day. It caught me up when I wasn't looking!

Silvio Lupanello, a powerful man in the village of Vigata, is found dead in his car in a seedy part of town, pants down around his knees. Even though the autopsy ruled death from natural causes, Montalbano felt that things were not right. His superior gives him a few days to assuage his feelings before closing the case.

The character development was excellent, especially considering this was the first book in the series. I look forward to reading more, and have the next two in my possession.

Montalbano takes a low-key approach to crime solving, which is quite refreshing. I look forward to learning more about him as the series unfolds.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alex hegg
Andrea Camilleri's "The Shape of Water" is the first in a series of Inspector Montalbano mysteries, only recently translated to English. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by interesting characters, a mystery I didn't figure out in advance, and a protaganist with many layers, who is serious, intelligent, self-depracating, and quite funny!
The story begins with the discovery by 2 garbagemen of a local politician, dead in a car, with his pants around his ankles. Detective work in Sicily is quite different than what you would expect in the US. But Inspector Montalbano performs his job largely independent of supervision and is fairly free to follow up in whatever way he pleases.
The pace is relaxed, and the book does not have your typical action-adventure style. Everything is revealed in a very matter of fact style in a storytelling manner, rather than one action scene to the next. Not to worry though, there are plenty of questions to be answered here, and Montalbano gets to them in his own good time. He manages to fit in a love interest, and some fantastic gourmet food as he goes about his days. His gastronomic interests are amusing in themselves.
I don't want to go on about the story itself here, it might spoil the surprises for the readers. Suffice to say this was a very enjoyable read, with plenty of plot twists, that will make you want to read the rest of the series. Highly recommended to mystery lovers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rodolfo
After reading the very entertaining Inspector Bordelli mystery series by Marco Vichi, I was hoping to find another mystery writer whose stories were also set in Italy. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't keen on reading Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano books at first but decided to try THE SHAPE OF WATER not really expecting to get involved in it. I'm glad I did. Montalbano is very much like Bordelli, who has a dry sense of humor and is a truly likeable character, but is also a cop who sometimes bends the law to make sure that the people who deserve real justice get it. Neither inspector trusts the Italian legal system to do the right thing, or not totally botch up what should be an open and shut case.

Too, Inspector Montalbano, like Inspector Bordelli, is a lover of good Italian food. Just reading these books makes you want to run to the nearest Ristorante for a plate of Saltimboca or Pasta al forno and a glass of Nero d'Avola.

I'm looking forward to starting the next book in the series THE TERRA COTTA DOG. 5 Stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kate rice
Andrea Camilleri's "The Shape of Water" is the first in a series of Inspector Montalbano mysteries, only recently translated to English. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by interesting characters, a mystery I didn't figure out in advance, and a protaganist with many layers, who is serious, intelligent, self-depracating, and quite funny!
The story begins with the discovery by 2 garbagemen of a local politician, dead in a car, with his pants around his ankles. Detective work in Sicily is quite different than what you would expect in the US. But Inspector Montalbano performs his job largely independent of supervision and is fairly free to follow up in whatever way he pleases.
The pace is relaxed, and the book does not have your typical action-adventure style. Everything is revealed in a very matter of fact style in a storytelling manner, rather than one action scene to the next. Not to worry though, there are plenty of questions to be answered here, and Montalbano gets to them in his own good time. He manages to fit in a love interest, and some fantastic gourmet food as he goes about his days. His gastronomic interests are amusing in themselves.
I don't want to go on about the story itself here, it might spoil the surprises for the readers. Suffice to say this was a very enjoyable read, with plenty of plot twists, that will make you want to read the rest of the series. Highly recommended to mystery lovers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jaci love
Television made me do it.

No. Really. There's an Inspector Montalbano mystery series made in Italy, filmed in Sicily, and all in Italian with subtitles. Since there are no Italian people in New York City and environs, our local PBS stations AND the city's wholly owned TV station neither one carry it. {/sarcasm}

It was left to a not-very-cultured bud of mine in her lowbrow, low-rent hometown, to gush and rave and generally make a to-do over scrumptious Sicily and handsome Montalbano blah blah blah. Wench. And oh the insufferable coos of "Really? Truly? You haven't even *read* the books? No! Get out!"

THEN, to add insult to injury, who but my very best online gal-pal should pop up with more rapturous flutings about Camilleri and Montalbano and well, you see?? See?! How on earth is one two-eyed human supposed to resist a nine-eyed cyborg's enticements? Okay, she's not really a nine-eyed cyborg, but she's always on a plane traveling for her job, giving presentations, making impromptu gourmet meals for ten friends, and never, ever a hair out of place! Someone tell Hermione her time-twister's missing.

So fine fine, I give, five lights, I'll go get the blasted thing. I did, at 2:10pm yesterday. I finished the second read at 4pm today. It's short, obviously, but it's just completely fabulously delicious. It's wry, it's witty, and it's got my favorite quality: Good people do the right thing, even if it's illegal, and bad people don't get away with dick.

Montalbano's got a lover in Genoa, and a hot chick who happens to be his friend's daughter who's all worked up for him, and a murder suspect who is an Italian man's wet dream: tall, blonde, Swedish, racing car driveress. Does he cheat on the lover? No. Does he seem to want to? Not so much, he really can't be bothered about silly stuff like that when the local party big-wig is found half-naked and dead in the local errr, mmm, uuuh "playground" shall we say. The man's widow, completely unfazed by this, helps Montalbano see the details that are wrong, the little discrepancies that shouldn't be noticeable, but when added up make the whole picture...askew.

The resolution to this case is one I wish some publisher would allow an American author to get away with. I just can't say enough about the rightness of it all. Sicily needs me, I must fly there immediately! Well, via Camilleri's books. The fare's so much more reasonable.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
humeida
By far this has become my favorite series. Written by Italian author Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli and read by Grover Gardner. This review is for the audiobook edition.

Gardner brings this book and the character to life. If I didn't know better I'd think he was Inspector Montalbano in the way he breathes life into each word.

Set in Sicily, this fast paced and funny mystery draws you in from the first line. The character crafting is very good and within a few lines I feel as if I know the man personally. The plot is easy to follow without cluttering that often happens when there are two many characters in a story but Camilleri masterfully moves them around the narrative.

They story starts with the death of a local politician found in a very compromising position.

From there Montalbano who is not a by-the-book guy stumbles along mostly trying to live his life but this murder business keeps getting in the way. It's a great story and I really enjoyed it making me immediately get the next in the series.

If you're looking for a well crafted story with some perfectly timed comedy this is with a look.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
helen helena nell
Andrea Camilleri's Italian Inspector Montalbano mystery series has been a runaway hit, selling ten million copies on the European continent for some time. The author, who lives in Rome, Italy, is an experienced writer, in print and for television, and he certainly knows how best to put his material across. This book, "The Shape of Water," was the first of this series, and the first to be made available in English, in 2002: it was translated by Stephen Sartarelli, poet and translator resident in upstate New York.

The book is set in Sicily, with its abundant Mafia history, and concerns the apparent natural death of Silvio Lupanello, important figure in the small coastal town of Vigata, where Salvo Montalbano is employed. The death appears to have been natural, but nothing is more unlikely than that Lupanello should have died where, and seemingly how, he did, and thence hangs the tale, which Camilleri gives us at a fast pace. It's a smart, complex, well-thought out and highly original many-layered plot, dark and somewhat gruesome, though spiced up by meditations on food, wine, and love. Characters are enjoyably presented, dialog is smart. Book's a quick, ingenious read.

Those who care for Sicily may not care for the tone of the book, however, as Camilleri leaves no cliche of that long-time, poverty-stricken island in the sun unturned: readers are invited to chortle at that island's expense. Some readers may be put off by the writer's casual use of sex, obscenities and violence. Others may have difficulty with the long, unknown Italian names, or the characters and situations raised once, from which we never again hear. Or the cavalier attitude with which Montalbano takes the law into his own hands. And, whether it comes straight from the Italian, or snuck in in this translation, from first to last there's a distinct-- dare I say it -- wise guy tone for which some, who are accustomed to drawing their own conclusions about what they're reading or watching, may not care.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
heath cabot
The Shape of Water’ is not heavy, dark or sad, but instead the tone is one of not letting mean temperaments or nefarious activities (even if only of-the-heart variety) which most folks engage in to varying degrees derail one’s general enjoyment of the day; and even if derailment is in the cards, life goes on, the sun is out, so take a deep breath of the warm fragrant air and plan on winning another day. However, Inspector Montalbano personally is going to get to the bottom of the mystery whether miscreants are brought before a judge or not! He is not above sorting out judgement and punishment on his own when appropriate.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
patsy
This was a fast-moving thriller set in a fictional Sicilian town. The author is Italian, and his hero is a local police chief, Salvo Montalbano. Unlike other crime fiction that is set in Italy but written by foreigners, this stuff is more down to earth and skips a lot of the pretty description and social observation. That is not to say that there is no social observation here - what would be the point of writing something set in Italy without it? But Camilleri, being a local, gets to the point faster and uses a lot of cynical humor and quick dialogue. The style reminded me a little of Simenon, although the characters and situations are different.

The story begins quickly, with the discovery of a leading politician's corpse, sitting in a car in a sleazy part of town frequented by whores and their customers. Although it is pretty strange that he should be found dead in such a place, pressure is immediately applied to the Montalbano to quickly wrap up the investigation. Feeling that he is being used, this cop instead begins to investigate. Montalbano is pretty much a classic paperback detective, but without the vices. He is tough and rational, but primarily a decent man who tries hard to do the right thing. Camilleri paints a picture of a Sicily that is rife with corruption of all kinds - financial, political, sexual - especially sexual - and a lot of this is taken for granted by everybody. This is, I suppose, a cliche about Southern Italy, but in this case it is employed by an Italian writer.

Montalbano begins to investigate, and discovers that, not surprisingly, things are not what they seem. But neither do they turn out to be the usual type of thing one would expect either. The pace is quick, and things are interesting and hard to puzzle out up thru the ending. The ending is a surprise too - a double ending, in which Montalbano, the only one who seems to have a clue as to what really happened (with one exception), ends up with two plausible explanations for the politician's death - and no arrests appear to be imminent.

Also coming into the picture are the dead man's political rival, his party boy son, and the son's Swedish blonde bombshell wife, who is apparently screwing any man who gets within a few feet of her. This was the first book in a series, and it seems like the author is trying to set up a series. There are an awful lot of characters that pop up in such short book, and I would bet that they reappear in other tales. Camilleri is no poetic prosemaster, but this was a solid, taut, well-designed page-turner with a fair amount of humor to balance out the violence.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
conner colosi
"Urbane" perhaps he is-he likes a dish of baby octupus prepared by his commissioner's wife-but Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano, the translated creation of Andrea Camilleri, needs more than just a sophisticated menu to pull him through! Still, in this first of Camilleri's police procedural series, "The Shape of Water" is worth the read.

Fast moving, fast reading, it requires little effort on the part of the reader-but those who don't wish to be bothered by "thinking" will find this a delightful read. Granted, this is an English translation and perhaps the original Italian is far superior. And to compare this author with any other other is just that: a comparison, as, simply put, any two items can be compared, if one wishes.

Still, Camilleri and his Montalbano deserve their praise, for, indeed, this book was fun to read. Again, the author, in a quick rush at the end, ties up all loose ends in the final chapter (in a type of "in case you slow readers didn't get it" approach), as there were lots of loose ends. His frenetic pace is reminiscent of a good foreign film, the quick and abrupt scene and character changes, the literary and intellectual symbolish (the shape of water!). Europeans apparently delight in this series and this author.

Set in Sicily, the murder victim is found abandoned in his BMW in "the Pasture," a place for illicit trysts of about any kind imaginable in Italy (or anywhere!). His pants around his knees, it is apparent that he's had a heart attack after having sex. Alas, our intrepid Montalbano (whether urbane or not) smells a dead fish and refuses to accept the cause of death, much to the consternation of his superiors (of which there are many-socially, politically, and religiously!). As, true to form, the inspector is correct.

Camilleri, like American expatriot Donna Leon with her Commissario Brunnetti series, pulls on punches when he readily implicates just about every aspect of Italian society in what appears to be a cover-up. Both authors spend much time on the corruption and other vices there....

Still, "The Shape of Water" is readable and noteworthy-even if it's only to see what the Euros are so excited about with their Inspector.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hannah
This is the first book in a series of police procedurals featuring the Italian Detective Salvo Montalbano. The series has become very popular in Europe and has been the basis for an Italian television series, so Viking decided to purchase the American rights and publish an English language version. It has been translated from the original Italian in a pleasing manner by Stephen Sartarelli, an American poet and translator. (Since I have no familiarity with Italian, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation, and whether the stylistic and linguistic differences from American police procedurals are a function of the translation or a faithful reflection of the original text.) This book was originally published in Italy in 1994 but was first published in the US in 2002. Subsequently, three additional volumes in the series have been translated and published here very quickly.
Inspector Montalbano is awakened by a phone call from his Sargeant to inform him that they have a new client, a local big shot politician named Silvio Lupanello. That Lupanello is now their "client" means that Lupanello's dead body has been discovered and it is up to them to investigate the circumstances surrounding his demise. And the manner of his death coupled with his position in the community lends both some urgency and some delicacy to their task, since he has been discovered in the passenger seat of his parked car with his pants down around his knees in a section of town frequented by prostitutes and others engaged in various unsavory and illegal activities. Because the coroner finds no evidence of foul play and there are obvious political ramifications, Montalbano's superiors want him to quickly close the case, but there a few loose ends that trouble both him and also the victim's wonderfully portrayed widow.
As the investigation proceeds, the contradictions deepen. If this sounds like Peter Falk's portrayal of Columbo in the long running TV series, in many ways it is. However, there is more profanity, and Montalbano's character idiosyncrasies are fully developed. He is equally adept at enjoying the merits of a good meal or discussing the book WESTERN ATTITUDES TOWARDS DEATH. There is some wonderful humor, and I was gradually drawn into the story line as several various threads were woven together after a somewhat slow beginning. I was very surprised and pleased by the somewhat unexpected but appropriate solution which cleverly tied together all the disparate elements of the case which had been unearthed by Montalbano. This is really a first rate ending, which is one of the most important elements to a successful police procedural. And woven throughout the story are some elements of the detective's romantic involvement as well. In addition, this is an easy book to read. It is short, the story is told in an uncomplicated manner, and there is a short section of notes at the back of the book to explain references to Italian currency, political structure, etc. that may be unfamiliar to Americans. The setting is a fictional town in Sicily, so there is no need for any reader familiarity with specific geographic detail. Another nice feature is the fact that this is one of those Penguin soft covers that really are pocket sized, so they conveniently fit in a corner of your bag or coat pocket and are easy to read on the train or plane. Finally, you will have to read the book to find out what is THE SHAPE OF WATER and why it is the perfect title for this book, I won't reveal the secret here.
While I was contacted by an employee of the publisher and asked to review the most recent book in the series, I wanted to introduce myself to the character as the author intended and decided to read the first volume to determine if the series was of interest to me. Based on my enjoyment of this story, I definitely plan to further enjoy following Detective Montalbano as he attempts to solve additional cases. As a disclaimer, I know no one employed by the publisher and have had no contact with either the author or translator. However, I believe it appropriate to disclose that as is customary I was furnished a review copy of this book but I did not provide any assurance that I would produce a review or what its contents would be if I did so.
Tucker Andersen
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
j t ford
The Shape of Water is a fine European-style mystery (lots of action with the little grey cells and little physical action) that will appeal to most readers who enjoy police procedurals. The main attraction in the book is the detective, Inspector Salvo Montalbano, who strives to do the right thing for the right reason. That can be a challenge in the midst of the corruption that seems to surround him in Vigata on Sicily. Like many fictional detectives, he's fixated on his work . . . even to the point of having a long-distance relationship with his girl friend so he can keep working all the time. There is a lot of subtle humor in the book as he organizes his day to avoid having his zealous and sometimes incompetent colleagues make messes while ensuring that he has fine meals whenever possible. The story itself depends on witty juxtapositions that create irony of the sort that one often hears used in stories told by people in Italy. Be sure to refer to the notes in the back to understand many of the references. The book's main drawback is that the sentence structure is often extremely long and convoluted. The last sentence on the first page has 96 words in it, for example. Mr. Camilleri will never be confused with Mr. Hemingway.
I have also read The Terra-Cotta Dog and The Snack Thief by Mr. Camilleri and found them to be remarkably fine novels. I encourage you to read this book with the understanding that good things await you. I suggest that you begin your introduction to Mr. Camilleri with The Shape of Water because the other two stories build on the character and plot developments in this one.
When the Shape of Water was first translated into English, I read several reviews of the book in national publications and found what I read about the book in them to be unappealing. Having read the book, I now find that those reviews and some of the jacket blurbs are at odds with my reading of the book. Let me see if I can clarify what this book is all about for you.
First, Mantalbano is simply a man who wants justice done. He is not a vigilante, but he will bend any rule or say anything necessary to achieve his ends. He's a practical cynic who understands how the misguided self-interest of others will pervert justice if he does not watch out. Yet, at bottom, he has sympathy for others and wants to be helpful to them. As he goes about it, he has a charm that reminds me of Hercule Poirot. While Poirot was fussy about everything, Mantalbano is mainly fussy about food.
Second, the humor here is laid on with a trowel through large contrasts. For instance, the man who supervises the local sex workers is his school friend. Montalbano finds himself both working with and against his friend in ways that will amuse you. Two well-educated surveyors cannot find work and must become garbage collectors. They get their jobs by doing political favors. Mantalbano ends up helping them more than their own machinations with politicians provided. However, it's not Stephanie Plum humor. It's more like Dante's humor, as he assigned his enemies to various rings in Hell. Seldom will you laugh aloud, but you will be smiling at and enjoying his jabs as they occur.
Third, although there's a lot of corruption going on, it's not so extreme that you enter a world that you cannot recognize. The exaggeration is there, but mainly to make the point . . . not to paint a dark shadow over the book. That said, some of the worst hidden corruption is pretty disgusting. But good works will out, and your faith will be reaffirmed in the potential to right wrongs.
As I finished this story, I was reminded that keeping one's sense of humor during difficult times is a very good idea.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeanna morgan
Our library mystery group read this book and enjoyed it. The author creates a textured atmosphere and portrays the culture and attitudes of Sicilian life. Inspector Montalbano is an original. If you like Italian food with a lot of fish dishes, the Inspector always manages to eat well.

In this book, a well-known citizen in town is found in a compromising position and rather dead. Love Montalbano's droll and sardonic wit as he deals with the usual lies and corruption in the area in trying to solve this puzzling crime.

The writing is descriptive and the series has an authentic feel as the author is a native of Italy. When you want to leave your familiar environs and travel to Sicily to solve a crime, pick up this first book in a delightful series. It's a quirky series, with a kind of gritty charm to spare.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
teacherreid
Camilleri writes a mean tough detective novel. Montalbano, his detective is smart, hard working but also quick tempered, foul mouthed and always ready to play god. There is plenty of obscene and scatological talk, sex and offers of sex, straight and kinky and a picture of a Sicily that is picturesque but brutal and hard.

I've been to Sicily and admired the towns, countryside, volcano, and ruins. If the people are really like they are portrayed in this book, it is quite an island indeed, and it seems that they probably are. The work has the ring of verisimilitude. While it jarred me, I am anxious to read another.

One downer. I thought the translation was very weak-- literal and stilted. I will bet the Italian is much more colloquial. You get used to it though.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marc alexander
The first of a series of crime fiction books set in Sicily, The Shape of Water is a good debut. Inspector Montalbano is asked to investigate the death of a public figure, found dead in surprising circumstances. He resists the pressure to close the case quickly and the investigation leads to a surprising conclusion. Many crime fiction books set in Italy are written by foreigners, Donna Leon, David Hewson and Michael Dibden, amongst others so it is refreshing to hear an authentic voice. I found the inspector an interesting, sympathetic character, nimbly avoiding the political pitfalls in investigating the death. I can't understand other reviewers comparing him with Marlowe, a different genre nor other readers' complaints about the sex and violence, it is not a children's book!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mlong225
I have several friends and family members who are fans of the Mantalbano series, and who have been urging me to read these books forever. So I finally picked up the first one, as I do enjoy books set in Italy, even if mystery is not my favorite genre.

After a bit of a slow start (there are very many characters introduced, some without a lot of set-up), I did eventually find myself quite engaged in the story and wanting to find out how it all ended. Montalbano is an interesting character, although we don't learn a great deal about him in this first book (I'm told to expect the later books to get better). The Italian politics and societal issues may be difficult for foreign readers to fully comprehend, but at the core of it all is a tight mystery, with several unexpected twists and turns to leave you guessing.

I will continue to read the books in this series as it is fairly light reading, and opens up a unique window on life (and death) in Sicily.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
adjoa
I bought this book some time ago (now catching up writing reviews). "The Shape of Water" was a component of a Kindle book I bought through the store called "The Montalbano Mysteries" which also included "The Terracotta Dog" and "The Snack Thief". Alas, the version combining all three books (at a significant cost savings) seems to be no longer available, so I'm writing this review for each individual book.

To readers more used to American or British police novels, this Sicilian series is refreshingly different. It is well worth persevering with the not so familiar; you'll be rewarded with quite a few chuckles and an appreciation for a different way of looking at our world. The descriptions of Salvo's Sicilian meals, and his relishing of them, are an added delight.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paul pichugin
A friend just back from Sicily told me I had to read Camilleri's books and he was so right! Set in Sicily, it is a wing-ding murder mystery solved by a forthright, honest inspector named Salvo Montalbano in the fictional town, Vigata. It begins when a powerful and respected man is found parked in a disrespectful part of the town, dead with his pants pulled down. By the time it is wrapped up, several politicians are also dead, and there is a revelation that comes out of nowhere and hits you like a hammer! This crafty writer is terrific and prolific. With all his books, I’m going to be very busy in the future.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
calvin
The body of a well known politician is found with his pants down, literally. But instead of a coverup, his lawyer suggests calling in the police. Police Inspector Montalbano is suspicious, but the autopsy says the death was natural--a heart attack. Still, Montalbano insists on keeping the case open, investigating what really happened. Because in Sicily, where the Mafia remains strong, the truth can be as malleable as water.
Montalbano's investigations probe political corruption, sexual deviance, and Sicily's underworld, but the evidence seems clear. The only question is, who was the beautiful girl who abandoned the minister when he died.
THE SHAPE OF WATER is the first in a really fine mystery series by author Andrea Camilleri. In WATER, Montalbano is already a fully developed and intriguing character with a strong moral sense and an attractive disregard for the letter of the law. Hints of his passion for the taste and smells of Sicily come out although these are more fully developed in later books in the series.
Camilleri's mystery is fully engaging and Montalbano is a great character. Although I didn't find THE SHAPE OF WATER quite as compelling as some of the later novels in the series, it is a highly enjoyable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
corky
Dottore Montalbano is urbane, intelligent, smooth, guttoral, well dressed, well read, well spoken, sharp as a tack, and as cynical as they come without resorting to bitterness. He is a detective in the Sicilian town of Vigate, a town seemingly overruned with crime, crooked politicians (is there another kind?), communists, fascists, over sexed and moneyed men and women.

The beauty of this book is not that the crimes are all that difficult to figure out. Plus the previous reviewers have delved into the intricacies of the plot. I will focus on the beauty of this book.

The beauty of this book is the tone of the conversations, the nature of the repartee and the give and take between friends and foes, the political, the literary, the profane and the profound. It is like a long drawn out lunch over a fine lunch al fresco, with an abundance of good wine and gossip. Food for the mind, body, and soul. It lets you into the conversations that Italian friends have with each other, all the laughs, conflicts, and resolutions. This book was an extended conversation with Camilleri and his views of everything Sicilian.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ed grams
If you read the publisher's review you'll get a really good idea about what this book is about. So, should you read it? Yes. And who am I to say you should? Why should you read this? Do you like mysteries? Have you been looking for something a little different but still interesting, intriguing perhaps? Do you like you're protaganist's to be down to earth, humanely defective, but intelligent and with a sense of good taste? And I do mean a sense of taste for the finer foods in life. Inspector Montalbano is one cool cop with a few ticks that make him intriguingly funny and obtuse. This novel is witty and has a few new twists that are different from American/English writers. At first you may find that this novel "reads" a little differently from what you're used to. The names of people and places in Sicily may be a little overwhelming too at first, but don't give up! Read on! The story is so good that you'll find yourself reading it and the names and the different style will become a pleasant experience that may just lead you to read more of this great Italian writer, Andrea Camillera. I rated it 4 stars instead of 5, because having read the next two in the series, "The Terra-Cotta Dog" and "The Snack Thief", which are both 5 stars to me, this one was good but not as good. But it's a good book and a good introduction into the world of Andrea Camillera's sleuth, Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Highly entertaining. Try it, you'll like it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fede ortuvia
Sicilian politician and wealthy engineer Silvio Luparello has been found dead. Garbage men came across his body inside a car, trousers around his ankles. The car had been parked at the pasture a stretch of land where prostitutes see to their clients, from the look of evidence Luparello has had a heart attack during his performance but as more details surface could this be an act of foul play.

Inspector Salvo Montalbano, a life-long resident of the fictional Sicilian town of Vigata had been brought in to find out the truth. Montalbano has a task on his hands this is at political level he has to remain calm and clever. He uses his sources to track people down; Gege his childhood friend who just happens to be the leading pimp is his main contact. Gege knows better than anyone a politician found dead on his site is just bad for business. Montalbano needs to get this wrapped up and fast with religious leaders and his superior officers breathing down his neck to close the case, its time for action, The game beings weaving through a web of lies and who's got the best out maneuver.

This book is extremely smart, very direct; the character Montalbano is streetwise the language used is kept real; whomever Montalbano talks to the language meets them on their level from a politician to the local pimp. It also becomes real in a sexual reality that also can be very direct but it manages to hold its sense of humor style throughout the book and even takes cracks at the Sicilian political customs. Motalbano is a well-respected likable guy, middle-aged has an eye for the ladies and them for him, he who has an edgy of control and bends the rules to suit his needs but above all else gets the job done.

I even ask myself about the title of this book "The Shape of Water" in this book the shape of water is referred to as a question, The conversation is held between Montalbano and Luparello wife but it more of a question and answer sequences, like a point was being made by it, what is real what is not.

"What is the Shape of water?"

Answer: There is No Shape to Water.

Why? Water will only take a form once placed in an object.

Could it be that The Shape of Water is masquerading as just a legitimate question or even a philosophical one? In my mind it's a pseudo-question "The shape of Water" as to "What is Murder" which only takes form when all the facts are in and evidence is conclusive, that it was actually committed, only then will you get your right or wrong answer.

This book leaves you dangling throughout with it twists and turns all the way along you can only surmise was it Murder, Natural Causes or maybe another form of twisted fate. Something left until the end of inquiry to deceive what is real therefore it just remains an assumption throughout. So we assume its murder but that's ambiguous to interrupt, just like the shape of water. I Love a book that gets the mind ticking over, even after I've finished my mind was doing overtime on the title.

Author Andrea Camilleri brilliant first novel which is beautifully translated into English, Stephen Sartarelli did a wonderful job at the translation. Notes are given at the back on words to help understand Sicilian customs and culture. I will certainly be moving on to his second one The Terra-cotta dog.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mike dougherty
Andea Camilleri's Silvio Montalbano series has been best seller material in Europe for years----just recently translated for the U.S. market.
Camilleri's reserved and nimble writing style loses nothing in translation.
Montalbano is a highly respected, cultivated Sicilian police inspector.
In "The Shape of Water," the body of a local, well-connected politico is discovered with his pants around his ankles in a rough area populated by hookers and drug dealers. Cause of death appears to be heart failure---the vic had a history of heart ailments.
Montalbano's supervisors pressure him to do a swift signed, sealed and delivered natural causes ruling. Many little things bother the inspector---so he pursues the case.
A generous amount of eccentric, off-center and droll characters abound----even the garbage men possess Ph.D.s.
Montalbano is a heady, witty, subtle, cynical investigator; not the pistol packing, bare-knuckles type.
It is an inventive, clever, smart police procedural with three follow-ups. I am glad I discovered them and look forward to the entire series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dean
Th Shape of Water is our introduction to Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano- Vigata, Sicily's most respected Detective and what an intro they both make! Montalbano has what looks to be a simple death on his hands in an area favored by pimps and prostitutes but with Camilleri you get more than just a 'simple' death. You get Old World politics and corruption, weekly Mafia retribution murders, good to great food, slashed tires as a hobby, and a few women who are more than willing to say grazie to Montalbano for some other undercover work.
A good read and a nice twist on the whodunnit, especially for those of us just discovering why Camilleri is an International besetselling author. The best thing about coming late to this party is the ability to stay around to read the rest of the series!
Thanks to the reviews section for turning me on to yet another good author.And may I say, come on in, the water's fine.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cecilia robles
Inspector Salvo Montalbano is a gentleman: a gourmet and an esthete.

He is also a faithful lover to his Livia who waits for him in Genoa

while he toils as a police inspector in a mythical region of Sicily.

The Sicily of Andrea Camilleri's fiction is a savage place indeed.

Nothing and nobody is at it seems and layers of conspiracy underly

other layers.

In this context, when a prominent engineer is found dead in a trash-

filled dump where prostitutes ply their trade, Montalbano is

suspicious of the coroner's verdict of death by natural causes.

His investigation takes him through descending layers of depravity

which conclude with a long, surprise-filled monologue in which all

is revealed.

This is very cerebral detecting, even given the Maigret-like texture

of the narrative. Fans of rough-and-tumble may be disappointed.

Those who flinch at the social critique of the South of Italy may

find the portrayal of Sicilians to be a bit problematic too.

But I think these objections are misplaced. The real action in this

book is on the social and personal level. It is precisely the

quality of thought that the ever-humane Montalbano brings to the

proceedings that make them exciting. More importantly, his dim-eyed

view of Sicilan society and mores is an invitation to reflect on

its similarities to our own. Sicily here is not a stand-in for

some uncivilized 'other'. It's handled with a sympathy that

makes it a proxy for all of us.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and

the novel bang BANG. ISBN 9781601640005
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mahmoud sherif
As any Italian will tell you, Sicilians (or Sicilianos) are not Italians, and any Sicilian worth his salt will tell you thats a good thing. Camilleri who wrote this story back in 1994 has a feel for a part of his country that is remote and misunderstood by most of his countrymen. This is not the urbane Commissario Bruneti of Venice, Salvo Montalbano was born and bred on the island, and has contacts among all strata of society.

On the island of Sicily, one has three choices in life, 1)government and politics, 2) mafioso, and 3) leave. Montalbano is unusual in that he grew up there and stayed. He uses his connections to ferret out information as to things that happen on the seamier side of life.

The story itself is pedestrian, but must have been much more intense in 1994 (dealing with adultery, prostitution, bisexuality, homosexuality) so it will read as dated. But all in all it's a good introduction to the character of Inspector Salvo Montalbano.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tobias
I read this particular book in about 3 sittings, and had to stay up late to finish, just because I could see how it was ending, but needed to tie up the loose ends.
Montalbano is a great character, complex background, cool attitude, good occasional wise-crack. As others have said, the Sicilian way of life is well-presented, as are various Italian and Italy references that may be lost on someone who isn't familiar with either (glossary in the back). But for the most part, you can get by not knowing exactly all of it.
There's no way you can't know what "Shape of Water" means if you have read the book...it's defined in a conversation between two central characters. To disclose it here would ruin the storyline.
Having read many European authors, I can see why this author is all the rage in Europe. Book Magazine rated this one of the best mysteries of 2002, and I tend to agree. My only complaints are that it was too short, and too fast of a read!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
skip
I cant decide how I feel about this book. I listened to the audioversion and I hated the narrator. He spoke so fast and in such a strange voice he reminded me of a really old black and white movie.

The story itself was intriguing. I definitely was drawn into the mystery and couldn't wait to see what happened next. I also liked that there was a bit of humor mixed in. My problem with this book is that this mystery follows a different formula - you're not told things as they occur. Instead, at the end of the book, Montalbano tells you all of the details that he uncovered. This to me was strange - if I am reading chapters and chapters following the Detective around as he tries to solve the crime, why aren't his findings told to me as they occur? To me it was weird, that all of a sudden, the crime was solved and Montalbano starts raveling off facts and figures that the reader wasn't aware of.

I can't decide if this formula is a deal breaker for me or if I just need to get used to something different. I think it may be worth giving the second book a chance.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rachell genesky
The Inspector Montalbano series is hugely popular in Europe, and with this book, the Sicilian policeman makes his English language debut... I'm not sure why, but some reviews have described him as a lethargic, cynical, and reluctant character-which he is none of. He is realistic within the constraints of the highly political and corrupt system, but he has a huge streak of compassion and empathy, and is certainly not lethargic. There are no big surprises at the end, but the real treat is in the journey and getting to know this likable policeman. A small note:... I say curious because I can't recall a single mention of wine, and only two or three meals are described, and then only very briefly-so I'm not sure why the publisher felt the need to make a pretense of gastronomic delights. In any event, it's deftly translated and nicely understated book that gives a very tangible sense of Sicily.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shahmida
The Montalbano series is my favorite mystery series. Why? Because Montalbano is a believable character. He is complex. He has a bad temper, struggles with interpersonal relationships, uses crude humor with his friends, and has some peculiar personal traits. He loves good food but hates conversation during his meals. He's very intelligent, loves to read, and is knowlegeable about the arts. He treats most of his friends like dirt but obviously cares for them deeply. He's cranky and irascible but also very likeable. He is also dogged in his pursuit of a case. He's the kind of cop you'd want working for you.

This book is the first in the series and gives you a good introduction to the town of Vigata, Montalbano, and the cast of supporting characters. The novel is short, tightly written and entertaining, the way novels should be. It leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, there are several later novels in print with more on the way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anthony cornett
THE SHAPE OF WATER is the first in Camilleri's series of contemporary mystery novels featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano and set in Vigáta, a fictional seacoast town in southern Sicily. One can't help but love this Montalbano character. He's an unpretentious and honest Italian policeman who doesn't care who he offends when he is intent on solving the crime of the moment. In this case, there doesn't seem to be a crime at all when an influential local contractor is found dead in a very compromising situation. The deceased Silvio Luparello appears to have had a last fling with a prostitute and suffered a massive and fatal heart attack in the process. Montalbano becomes suspicious when a powerful politician, a judge, and a bishop all apply pressure to quickly close the investigation. Our hero manages to get a 48-hour extension during which he sorts it all out.
Camilleri is a master at describing this part of Sicily and the vast array of interesting characters local to the area. Montalbano's many colleagues in the Questura are a delightful bunch of guys. Livia, his ladyfriend, is in Genoa and much of their relationship is over the phone. He is often tempted by other beautiful women but always remains faithful. Any Italian story, worth it's salt, has to talk about food. Camilleri does not disappoint -- Montalbano not only has a housekeeper, Adelina, who always leaves his refrigerator stocked with mouth-watering local seafood delicacies; but his commissario's wife regularly invites him to dinner to sample her creative recipes.
Stephen Sartarelli does an admirable job in translating Camilleri's novel from the Italian. While reading THE SHAPE OF WATER, you always get the sense that this is an Italian mystery about Italian characters and written by a superb Italian author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah stone
Inspector Montalbano of the police force in the small Sicilian town of Vigata has to investigate the death of Silvio Lupanetto, an engineer and local political hotshot of the reigning christian democratic party. Mr Lupanetto has died of a massive heart attack while having sex, but the place where his body is found is suspicious: why would a cautious man like him go to the local prostitute and drug area? The inspector's investigations give a nice insight into Italian wheeling and dealing: sex schandals, rich people with an attitude, the Mafia, left versus right, corruption and bribing. In short, everything we Europeans suspect Italy to be. Italy is a lot more, but in this novel there are only hints of good food and drinks, a great culture and a lovely countryside.
The book is written in a very fluent style and the story has a number of twists and turns which makes it an enjoyable read. I would say 3½ stars, so let's make it 4 because this is the first book of a series and character of the inspector may still grow.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shivali
I wasn't sure what to expect here. But, the book came recommended. From Italy & recently translated into English, this turns out to be the first of the Inspector Montalbano series.
Taking place in Sicily, the Inspector has his hands full on almost all fronts. Both criminal & personal.
The crime involves high level people in the Sicilian political world. You feel you have a very good idea of the protagonist while reading. However, you don't find the real truth, including Montalbano's until the end. The characters are "Real", especially Montalbano.
There is no waste of dialogue anywhere in this short novel. Concise & to the point throughout. The author unravels & tells his story very nicely
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
edan
In the American detective novel such as the Maltese Falcon oftentimes the hero is just as bad as the thugs he fights against and resorts to what we would call evil to achieve his ends. In The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri we have an altogether different animal. While retaining some of the facets of the hardboiled crime novel, it also lightens the atmosphere and incredibly features an honest and moral man as its protaganist.
Salvo Montalbano, the police inspector for the small Sicilian town of Vigata, is deeply respected by his community for his honesty and fairness. That is doubly important since there is corruption in all levels of the Italian government. He is very likable. He doesn't cheat on his girlfriend, he does good deeds, and he's also pretty intelligent, sometimes even discussing literature with other officers in the know. Not exactly the cold-blooded killer we see in America. What a breath of freshness this is!
Hold on, dont think that this is some nice cub scout book to be read to children. As the novel opens, two garbagemen find the body of Silvio Lupanello, chief political figure in Vigata. They find him dead in a car in the Pasture, a local name for an area known for its drug and prostitution activity. One of them finds a valuable necklace on the ground and conceals it from the police.
Salvo is called in to investigate the scene. I hesitate to say crime scene because it is not known whether any crime has been comitted. The rumors begin to spread that it was foul play. The problem for the inspector is that he wants to know the truth, wherever it leads him. Even it ends up sullying the plans of the political elite.
This was a good book. It was so refreshing to get a new perspective on a detective novel. I'm not alone because this series is a best-seller in many countries. It was originally published in Italy almost 10 years ago and has just now made it to English. I liked the fact that we had a traditional hero in the novel. I mean, American writers really blur the lines between good and evil most of the time. That's not to say there are no twists and turns in this novel. Camilleri seems to be in complete control of writing a novel that can be tough and yet gentle at the same time. The characters were great. The setting really invoked the country. The only thing that I can complain about was that maybe the novel moved too fast. You never have time to slow down. It seems like more of a cinematic experience. Maybe that will be remedied in the second novel. If you like detective stories with a refreshing change, seek this book out.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
robert matheson
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli (Translator)
The way that I read books is to start 3 or 4 at a time, When I become bored with one I just pick up where i've left off with another. If one is particularly interesting I can literally finish it within a few days. My genre of choice are mysteries from NY Times Best Sellers to relative unheard of or long forgotten writers. So, I was quite excited when Penquin books / Viking Press offered to send me copies of four of Mr Camilleri's mysteries which have been translated into English to read and review.
Unfortunately, Andrea Camilleri's Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano The Shape of Water has been almost impossible to read. The books are quite a departure from what most American mystery readers are expecting. There are several murders, no car chases, nor fist fights, nor shoot outs. That isn't necessarily why I can't say I didn't like the books.
I recently read and reviewed Alexander McCall Smith's "Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, where there are no shoot outs, etc and was thoroughly entertained by the series.
I think what was lacking for me from Mr. Camilleri's books were something to relate to from an investigators process in solving the main and then the subsequent crimes. When I finally finished the book , the crime was solved and I had no idea HOW it was solved.
After The Shape of Water, I know what to expect from other books in the series. I'll give the other books a shot and see if it was just me and this particular work of the author
John Row
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kalyan
I backtracked to this one because I started with Terra Cotta Dog and loved it so utterly that I had to know Montalbano from the beginning. This first one is definitely a delight, but Terracotta is much better, much funnier. Still, I'm glad I came back to the start. Buyers: Know that it only gets better. My only complaint about this one is that it's SO SHORT! Barely an evening by the fire. That can be a mercy when you're reading someone awful, but sad when it's as good as this one.

AUDIO: The reader is an excellent choice. He's not totally perfect, but close enough. He has a good sense of, and is a good fit for, this wonderful character.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
celia laska
This first mystery in the Inspector Salvo Montalbano series introduces us to the sardonic but determined policeman, the imaginary Sicilian seacoast town of Vigáta, and a cast of colorful characters. Mr. Camilleri's Sicily is just as thoroughly corrupt as you'd expect it to be and no one much seems to mind, other than Montalbano, who isn't about to let everyone else's eagerness to look away stop him from solving the murder of a respected local politician. The opportunity to let it slide by is ample, as it's not even apparent at first that a crime was committed, but the fact that the body was found in a trash yard that's a notorious pick-up spot for whores is sufficiently out of the victim's public character that the Inspector starts digging.

The particular strengths of the book are the setting that Camilleri brings to life -- not least by taunting us with the vittles Montalbano enjoys -- and the witty character of the Inspector, as well as his becoming determination to see justice done, even if he has to bend the rules himself on occasion.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
andrea tilley
Andrea Camilleri's police detective series, set in Sicily with his Inspector Montalbano, reinforces all of your stereotypes about crime, corruption, intrigue and double dealing on the island. This is an earthy story with sex as a leading element. The protagonist, an intuitive cop, questions why one does favors for those in power. A witness explains, "Inspector, you can't sail without a favorable wind."
A big shot is found dead in a compromising position in a distinctly bad locale. People in power seem determined to gloss over the details and put an end to the case. The Inspector smells something fishy so he wants to investigate.
The author has fashioned a complicated plot, but he hasn't made it very engrossing. He has sprinkled into his mix a lot of conniving characters, but hasn't made them very individualized or interesting. The book lacks spark and vitality. It is advertised as having a comic quality, but to this reader, it came over as rather glum and sodden. This is the first in Camilleri's series about the Sicilian police inspector, and I hope that the later ones are better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
saeru
Once again we are in Vigata on the Sicilian Coast (and the birthplace of the author). Salvo Montalbano, the local keeper of the law, brings his humanity and knowledge of the local customs to a vexing case: the victim - engineer Silvio Luparello - of murder most foul was not blown away by a lupara, but ostensibly died in the performance of a manly occupation.
Open and shut case. Delicious, but not true. Montalbano recognizes a murder when he sees it and then unravels the events.
The world of Montalbano is a wonderful world indeed, including his permanent fiancee Livia (who lives on the mainland), colorful locals and interesting food. Much fun can be had by reading this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
samuel stolper
This is the first Mantalbano mystery in the series. He’s a urbane detective in a Sicily. When a man is found dead in a car with his pants pulled down, the death is ruled natural—a heart attack, but the determined Mantalbano is sure there is more to the story. As he digs and digs he discovers a multi-layered story involving the Mafia and family jealousy. The ending is totally unexpected but spot on.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
paula forbes
Salvo Montalbano is an Italian detective who lives in a small town in Sicily. Unlike many American detective novels where the protagonist is tough and hard boiled, Montalbano is refined, and cultured. He is known in the community to be fair minded and kind with a love of fine food and finer women.
When a important official in town is found dead in a seedy area Montalbano investigates with his own style and charm.
The book, the first of four, has been translated from Italian, and the books are bestsellers in Europe. While enjoyable, it was an adjustment from what I'm usually used to reading in regards to mystery novels. Much of the book deals with life in an Italian town and the heiarchy that exists there, as well as the political climate. A glossary in the back provides translations from everything to local police customs to money exchanges. While giving you a definite feel of time and place, it didn't always engage me like I hoped it would. Still, it's an enjoyable and quick read if you're looking for a mystery series that's different in tone and locale.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
angeline
Inspector Montalbano is cerebral detective who refuses to believe the official line that the death of a local dignitary was natural. He sets out to prove that either the man was murdered, or his body was moved after death, however it occurred. He probes and listens and watches and remembers, and piece by piece he builds his case.
This novel manages to beautifully evoke the country of Sicily and its people, a difficult thing to achieve in a crime novel. It also deals openly with society's dark underbelly: criminal gangs, corruption in high places, and the struggle of ordinary people to survive. Our detective is very much a man of the people and it is their rights that he wrongs.

Jane Hetherington's Adventures in Detection Omnibus (Books 1-3)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
radha
The seamless, breezy English translation really allows the reader to sit back and enjoy this cynical, funny, detailed mystery set in a small town in Sicily. The town isn't TOO small, however, as there are various hierarchies in play (political, criminal, social, etc.) that figure more and more into the proceedings at hand as the story progresses. Things are fairly easy to keep straight in one's head, however, allowing the reader to pay equal attention to the enjoyable descriptions of the food and scenery. A nice little change of pace from the usual mystery fare.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bits
Disagreeing with those who say that the pace of the book is slow, I enjoyed this differing flavor on a detective novel. The Shape of Water is able to immerse us in the world of Inspector Montalbano: his enjoyment of mediterranean food coupled with a detailed description of the dry, warm and rocky Sicilian geography. The denouement of the crime, though, is somewhat predictable. But Inspector Montalbano's assessment of the characters' morality and personality as well as the decisions he take based on those, add a novel treatment to the modern detective.

This is a book that is definitely worth a read!!!

This review is based on the Spanish version of this book (thought that Spanish was closer to Italian!)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
elmoz
As I began reading the Shape of Water, I had difficulty "getting into" the story - simply put, it dragged. However, perseverence won out, and I am glad it did; the story picked up nicely about 1/4 of the way into the book as the plot thickened. It concluded strongly with a marvelously sinister twist at the end. I'm glad I stuck with it.
At no point did I find the book funny - as a previous reviewer mentioned, this may be the result of a weak translation. I suspect the plodding first few chapters are similarly the result of poor translating. However, I did enjoy the way in which food was frequently refered to in the book, its prominence typcially Italian.
In the final analysis, The Shape of Water is good, but not great. The story line is tight, and the plot will keep you riveted. But I can't help but think that the book may be better in the original Italian.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abby chiaramonte
A. Camilleri's Vigata, Sicily is poor and crime-ridden, but it bosts a hero - Salvo Montalbano, a sexy, cynical, honest, brutally funny, well-read and highly intelligent police inspector with well-placed friends.
When a powerful politician dies with his pants around his ankles in the seediest part of town, it looks like simple case of death by natural causes. But Salvo isn't fooled, and rankles the local powers-that-be by not closing the case.
It's great that this popular Italian series is finally being translated!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
atweedy
Someone asked me read this book and determine whether it was literature or not. Of course, this raises all sorts of questions as to what constitutes literature, none of which I will attempt to answer here. But the book did leave me wondering. Clearly, since it's been translated into 8 languages, it must be well recognized as literature by a diverse audience. Yet, somehow, after spending the 90 minutes required to read through this very brief tale (double spaced, largish print and a chapter break with practically every paragraph, this book has more white space than the Canadian Arctic), I came away feeling hollow. It has its moments of beauty and poignancy; the character of Inspector Montalbano is definitely well fleshed out; and the background of Sicilian culture and politics gives the whole thing an air of refinement or at least exoticism. Yet the rest of the characters in the book, and their number is legion, are barely fleshed out - often encountered for only a page or two. The plot, while not predictable, falls into that category of mystery in which the villain is not even brought on stage till near the very end, perhaps so the reader won't figure things out too soon. The role of coincidence in Inspector Montalbano's investigation is so large as to constitute nearly his entire method. And while the grotesque sexuality and crudity of many of the characters may remind some of a Fellini film, it seems a bit over the top in a number of places.

So, I'm not sure if this is art or simply an Italian murder mystery. If the former, I must say it's not to my taste, and if the latter, its neither a brain teaser nor a page-turner. Sure, the plot will keep you moderately entertained for the few minutes it takes to read, but once you finish you'll wonder if you could have spent your time better - perhaps by watching television.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
beth moore
Knowing the huge success this book had had all over Europe, I confess I have expected much more of it. I also think, as my fellow reviewer above, that the sicillian way of thinking, speaking and handling is well exposed in this book. Commissario Montalbano is a funny, intelligent, amusing character, the descriptions of the action settings are precise, the dialogs are tremendously well structured ( Andrea Camilleri is also a dramaturg). From the mere literary point of view, I would rate this book as very good. But were talking about criminal litterature, about a murder and a cop who searches for the truth of the facts. While his quest, his interviews with witnesses, and his searching for evidences are as interesting as the ones we see in other great authors, the end of the book is a huge disappointment. I have read the last pages thinking "Ok, now there's gonna be the great BOOM of the book". The pages passed by and nothing. In the end, I ask myself: after all, which is the form of water? Why the hell is this the title of the book?! And couldn't the solution of the case be a little more exciting? I have guessed it in the beginning of the book.
Everything is to foreseenable here, I think I would've loved this book 5 years ago, as I was 14 or 15 years old..
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caitlin myers
I bought my first Camilleri novel a few weeks ago after reading a New Yorker piece on trends in European detection writing. They indicated that he was pretty good. The Shape of Water turned out to be so incredibly good that I quickly returned to the store to buy up everything Camilleri that was on offer.

I am a little biased because I know and love Italians so well.

Camilleri combines deep introspection on the part of gloomy Inspector Montalbano, his disgust with Sicilian and Italian corruption, the blackest of noir, commentaries on contemporary political events, intellectual and culinary asides with broad ethnic humor including well-rendered translations of local dialects that connote ignorance and peasantry. Think of Elmore Leonard at his best. Definitely five standing bravos. I can't wait for the movie. If any of his stuff has made it to the screen, please let me know.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
g0ldil0x
This is the first in the much-praised Inspector Montalbano mystery series set in Sicily. It's a quiet, controlled kind of detective novel, which offers delicious insights into Sicilian life, while introducing us to an interesting detective and the lives, deaths and mysteries of Sicilian society, from corrupt businessmen to garbage collectors.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lanierobyn
I love this series. Inspector Montalbano is a man you want to spend time with. So this book enables us to follow him around Sicily and eavesdrop on his conversations and ruminations. Highly entertaining. Once started, Camilleri's novels are hard to put down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
globerunner
This book is one of the most enjoyable adventures in mystery - largely because it is original, with a unique bone-dry taste - the Sicilian scene is glorious and the characters are quite luscious.... i look forward to reading the others in this series......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
luisa murray
Simply the most intelligent, charming, realistic series of detective-type stories I've read in years! I'll admit I'm an Italophile, but there was real character development, this guy Montalbano is a real person into whose world I was totally drawn. Man does he know how to eat well, the characters are nuanced, and the detective work ingenious.

DO NOT MISS him, I know what I'm talking about!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
margo jantzi
The book store recommend it and I read it. It was alright, but nothing special. It had it moments and it was pretty short. It was well written, but that's not what I'm looking for. I like fast-paced, action thrillers, which this wasn't.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
oloore
I was really looking forward to reading this series. I read all the great reviews and was expecting an excellent read what I got was a poorly translated novel with a lack of any character development. I read the first chapter 3 times I just kept thinking I was missing something. I hope you will at least read the first few free pages before you decide to purchase
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
khanhnguyen
I'm an avid reader of mysteries and crime novels, and was looking forward to starting another series. After reading good reviews and I was disappointed by this book for several reasons. First, I don't think the translation was done well. Some of the descriptive passages left me more confused than with a picture of the story in my mind. It seemed as if the original Italian were simply pated into an internet translator at times, and I found myself reading paragraphs over and over to understand what was going on. Second, the characters lacked depth. After reading the book, I still don't know who Montalbano is, why he does the things he does, and why he cares. The reviewers who compare Montalbano to Chandler's Marlowe either haven't read Chandler or need to go back and re-read his books. The claim is outright ridiculous. They have nothing in common, and this book is very shallow writing.

Also, the plot and many of the scenes were simply part of a formula. Sure, these kinds of books tend to follow a formula, and I know that. However, the plot and writing stuck too close to the formula, and just didn't deliver. I am selling my copy to a used bookstore, wont be purchasing any more by this author, and won't recommend the series to friends.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
elizabeth licata
A tough, sardonic story of cops and rogues in Sicily. The characters are believable and there is humour as well as crime. There is also an obvious love of good food which helps to create the atmosphere.
Please Rate Book 1), The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano
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