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The Shape of Water
Andrea Camilleri
The Barnes & Noble Review

Bestselling Italian author Andrea Camilleri has built a massive international following for his sardonic Sicilian mysteries featuring a listless, dejected, nonconformist protagonist who somehow always accomplishes his duty in spite of himself. The Shape of Water is his first Inspector Salvo Montalbano adventure to be translated into English.

When a local politician is found dead in his car, half naked, in a seedy neighborhood known for prostitution and drug trafficking, it's assumed that he died of natural causes in the middle of a sexual escapade. Hoping to avoid an embarrassing situation, Montalbano's superiors expect him to close the case quickly. But the inspector senses that not all is as it seems and determinedly launches a full investigation.

While pursuing the case, Montalbano encounters a number of bizarre and comical characters, from an elderly schoolteacher driven mad by his 80-year-old wife's "cheating" to a former classmate who's now an intellectual pimp. The inspector is drawn into the shadowy world of Sicilian politics as he discovers affiliations made between bureaucratic adversaries, meets with promiscuous beauties, and finds corruption that might even reach into the Church. He takes it all with the accepting attitude that one needs to survive in an often bleak and impoverished part of the world.

Not your typical fast-paced, shootout-filled genre mystery, The Shape of Water is an artfully written novel that provides its own brand of rewards. Replete with the sights and sounds of Sicily, this is an atmospheric and frequently droll tale that offers American readers a new and distinctive voice. (Tom Piccirilli)


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