Life is just flying by like a real page-turner. No sooner one great Endsleigh Salon book evening enjoyed than it's time for the next one and tonight's theme is Crime & Whodunnit.
While I think of it check out great crime fiction blogs It's a Crime here and Euro Crime here.
I wanted something completely new and preferably a series that would create one of those nice gorge-like addictions where you really get under the skin and sense the personality of the investigator and feel the atmosphere of a setting that perhaps you don't know very well. That way you get a bit of armchair travel thrown in for free.
I was spoilt for choice when I checked the shelves.
Should I catch up with Adam Dalgliesh? I had a massive P.D.James binge back in the 1980's and then lost track.
Should I finally make a start on Rebus? I have been long promising myself that I should at least read the first one which is why I haven't made any progress because the only one I have is the fifteenth one in the series, Fleshmarket Close and I only bought this because I was in Edinburgh and had just walked up there.
Same with Veronica Stallwood, goings on at the Bodleian and I'd just been to Oxford.
What about finding out what all the fuss is about and investigating Dr Kay Scarpetta? Never read a Patricia Cornwell, was I in the mood for New York?
Perhaps a trip back in time and catch up on all those Sherlock Holmes stories I haven't read? The Tinker is a real Holmes buff after we bought him the complete stories on CD for his 80th birthday but I'm nicely behind in all things Sherlock having not read any seriously since my teens.
There again should it be Brunetti, Venice and Donna Leon? Enough of these to keep me going for months and Random Jottings won't let me off the hook much longer after I made her read The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
But no, perhaps this is finally a chance to try and crack Jasper Fforde? I have had a complete and frequent failure with The Eyre Affair but I keep feeling I should try harder, I've bought, sold on Amazon and bought again, more copies of this book than I care to admit to. I think I'm missing the point with these but what am I missing? Could someone explain?
There was however an eventual winner and I'm delighted to have finally made the acquaintance of Andrea Camilleri's wonderful creation Inspector Montalbano and to have taken a trip to Sicily in the process.There's a very informative article by Paul Bailey here and his comment that characters generally win over plot in Camilleri's police procedurals is spot on but that was exactly what I was looking for.
I've done quite a lot of serious reading lately so I've been weaving in some humour here and there.Excursion to Tindari was a perfect combination of serious crime investigation coupled with sardonic but very funny humour matched with a priceless main character who you can't fail to warm to.
Stephen Sartarelli's translation is perfect, capturing the nuances of the language in an unobtrusive but unique way that had me reading sentences out loud and actually sounding like any mafia godfather should.
I'll also enjoy any writer who is sufficiently self-effacing to write
"This entire book - names, surnames (especially surnames), situations - is invented out of whole cloth. Any coincidence whatsoever is due to the fact that my imagination is limited"
Lastly perhaps I should also declare that the cover won me over instantly, you know me by now, every bookseller's dream customer.
You can diagnose a Jeff Fisher book cover at sixty paces now, ever since those early Captain Corelli's Mandolin days and they haven't lost one iota of their appeal for me, I love them.Seemingly random but chock full of detail and an artistic style that just urges me on to like the book.
So fickle in fact am I that another three Inspector Montalbano's are on their way because The Book People (shhh, don't tell) had a special offer, £4.99 for three.I tried to make the order up to £20 for free postage but TBP prices are so rock-bottom it almost works against itself. It would have meant about fifty books arriving, even I can't cope with that right now but I can cope with any amount of Inspector Montalbano.
But I would be negligent not to issue a health warning.
Beware these books are very high in calorific value, the food is so effectively tossed, drizzled and served throughout the book you really do have to go off and find a bowl of pasta with a nice sauce, dash of balsamic, few pine nuts, throw on some olives, grating of parmesan...quite often.