August Heat by Andrea Camilleri (trans Stephen Sartarelli)
It’s nearing the middle of August and the heat in Sicily is getting unbearable. Montalbano’s girlfriend Livia is arriving soon with friends to stay in a villa he’s found for them. Salvo is looking forward to some quality time with Livia. The villa looks perfect, but they are plagued by cockroaches and mice, then Bruno, Livia’s friend’s son goes missing. He is discovered down in an illegal basement buried below the house – empty for years – except for a trunk – with a body in it!
Livia and her friends flee back home, leaving Salvo to suffer in the searing heat and conduct a murder investigation without a fan in his office. Added to that, the builders are obviously crooked and covering up for each other. The normally dapper and gourmet inspector can hardly bear to do anything, it’s so hot. Eating hot food is out, and he’s spending half his time in the shower or sitting in his office in his underpants and missing Livia – this story is suffused with heat, humidity and sweat! But we know that Salvo will get his man, loyally supported by the ever trusty Fazio, even though he nearly gets distracted by a pretty girl on this case…
I love Montalbano, the fifty-something batchelor with his long-distance girlfriend. Like all the best literary detectives, he has a healthy dose of disrespect for bureaucracy and his deskbound superiors and is not afraid to tear up the rulebook when needed. The Italian way of doing things and Mediterranean location make for interesting plots. There is a good dose of humour in these novels too, giving light and enjoyable reads. I remember when I read the first in the series (The Shape of Water), I found the translation rather cool and dry, but like the heat in this novel, Sartarelli’s translation is thoroughly warmed up by now! He adds some useful pages of notes about various Italianisms and background stories at the end too which are better than footnotes. (Book requested from the Amazon Vine programme, 8/10)