The snack thief

Andrea Camilleri

Book - 2003

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MYSTERY/Camilleri, Andrea
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New York : Viking 2003.
Item Description
"An Inspector Montalbano mystery"--Cover.
Physical Description
298 p.
Main Author
Andrea Camilleri (-)
Other Authors
Stephen Sartarelli, 1954- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In the third Inspector Montalbano mystery to appear in the U.S., the maverick Sicilian cop is once again convinced that the fix is in and determined to unfix it. This time Montalbano suspects a link between the stabbing of a businessman in an apartment-house elevator and the shooting of a crewman on a fishing boat. Connecting the two are an enterprising Tunisian prostitute, now vanished, and her young son, who has been surviving by stealing lunches from schoolchildren. Montalbano fits the pieces together gradually, taking time, as always, for plenty of leisurely lunches but eventually exposing a wide-ranging plot fuelled by high-level corruption. What makes this series so good is Camilleri's unsurpassed ability to mix hard-boiled terror with the comic frustrations of daily life. Montalbano is the southern Italian equivalent of Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia, also a Sicilian but stationed in Florence. Both men covet the quiet pleasures of food, drink, and female companionship, but neither is quite able to resist the compulsion to help others. In the tension between those two forces, the Italian crime novel thrives. ((Reviewed May 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Unlike American movies, in which the detective can identify a suspect from a license plate number in less than two minutes, solving a crime in Italy is a bit more complicated: "One time they'd made Montalbano wait twenty-eight days, in the course of which the owner of the vehicle...was goat-tied and burnt to a crisp." And if things are done differently on the Italian mainland, they are even more bizarre on the island of Sicily. Where else could a police officer enjoy a mouthwatering meal prepared by a petty crook-turned-chef, "directly inspired by the Madonna." Camilleri's third Inspector Montalbano mystery (after The Shape of Water and The Terra-Cotta Dog) takes readers into this strange, colorful world as the sardonic yet compassionate Montalbano investigates the stabbing death of an elderly man in an elevator and the machine-gunning of a Tunisian crewman on an Italian fishing boat. Is there a connection between the two killings? And what about the case of the little boy who has been mugging other schoolchildren for their snacks? Full of memorable characters and witty takes on Italian life (`the Italian bureaucracy, usually slow as a snail, becomes lightening-quick when it comes to screwing the citizen"), Camilleri's latest proves why he is such a big hit in Europe. U.S. mystery readers take note. Highly recommended.-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his third Inspector Salvo Montalbano mystery to be made available in the U.S., Camilleri (The Shape of Water) displays all the storytelling skills that have made him an international bestseller. When gunfire from a Tunisian patrol boat kills a worker on an Italian fishing trawler, the worldly Sicilian police inspector knows that this is just the type of situation his overly ambitious second-in-command, Mimi Augello, will want to exploit. Meanwhile, Montalbano has to look into the stabbing death of a retiree in the elevator of the victim's apartment building. While the trawler incident appears to resolve itself, the elevator slaying gets more complex by the minute. Soon Montalbano is searching for the retiree's beautiful housekeeper (and sometimes prostitute) and her son. It's only when he finds the boy (the snack thief of the title) that Montalbano learns the true nature of the case, its relation to the trawler shooting and the danger it poses. Although warned to keep his distance, Montalbano, who can't deny his investigative instincts any more than he can refuse a hardy portion of sardines a beccafico, proceeds headlong into the thick of government corruption with a risky plan to set things right. Montalbano, despite his curmudgeonly exterior, has a depth to him that charms. Readers are sure to savor this engrossing, Mafia-free Sicilian mystery. (Apr. 28) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Suspecting a link between the murder of an elderly man and the shooting of an Italian fisherman, Inspector Montalbano encounters impoverished housekeeper and sometime prostitute Karima, whose thieving young son's life is endangered after she disappears. Reprint.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

“The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humor, and the sense of despair that fills the air of Sicily.” —Donna Leon When an elderly man is stabbed to death in an elevator and a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off Sicily's coast, only Montalbano, with his keen insight into human nature, suspects the link between the two incidents. His investigation leads to the beautiful Karima, an impoverished housecleaner and sometime prostitute, whose young son steals other schoolchildren's midmorning snacks. But Karima disappears, and the young snack thief's life—as well as Montalbano's—is endangered, the Inspector exposes a viper's next of government corruption and international intrigue.