In this seventh book in the Inspector Montalbano series, the Sicilian Inspector has become disillusioned with his job, and suspicious of the ethics of those he works for. He is worried that he is past his best, and seriously considers resigning. So his mood is not improved when he is out for an early morning swim one day, and suddenly finds himself sharing the sea with the corpse of a man who has clearly been dead for some time. Trying to discover the identity of the deceased proves an arduous task.
Montalbano also finds himself getting involved in the plight of a young immigrant boy, which leads him into the murky world of illegal immigrant trafficking, and putting his plans for resignation on hold.
As in the previous books in this extremely entertaining series, the Salvo Montalbano is grumpy, sarcastic and sometimes just plain rude, but still manages to endear himself to the reader, with his strong morals and eagerness to do the right thing (and love of good food!). The usual supporting cast are all in evidence, from the steadfast Fazio, to the showy (and now married with a child on the way) Augello, and the bumbling, but frequently hilarious Catarella. The book is filled with the series’ trademark mouthwatering descriptions of Montalbano’s beloved local cuisine, and the Sicilian atmosphere almost leaps off the page.
This book however, is somewhat darker in tone than those which precede it. Questions are raised not only about Montalbano’s ability to do his job, but also whether his health is all it should be. The nature of the enquiry – into the illegal trafficking of immigrants, and specifically children – takes the reader into an uncomfortable area. None of this is a critcism however; this series tends to get better with every book, and this is possibly my favourite so far.
An excellent read, but I would urge anyone wanting to read any of the Montalbano series, to start at the first book and read through them in order.