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Sunday, January 2, 2022

Riccardino (2020/2021) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Inspector Montalbano Mystery)

RiccardinoAndrea Camilleri died in 2019. He had written this book and sent it to his editor, to be published after his death.

This is the final novel with Inspector Montalbano as its protagonist. I first started writing it in July 2004 and finished it in August 2005. I will not write any more in the series. I regret this, but at eighty years of age, one cannot avoid the fact that many, too many things must come to an end.

Then, in November 2016, after turning ninety-one and feeling surprised at still being alive and still wanting to keep writing, I thought it might be a good idea to “adjust” the story of Riccardino. I’ve lost my eyesight and therefore had no choice but to ask my friend Valentina to read it to me aloud. As I was listening I became surprised at my own words. I no longer remembered the story, which I found good and unfortunately still relevant. And in fact I changed nothing in the plot. But I did find it necessary to bring the language up to date.

This book is unlike any other Montalbano story.

For one, Camilleri inserts himself into the story.

Montalbano suddenly felt extremely agitated. Some years back he’d had the brilliant idea to tell a local writer the story of a case he’d conducted, and the guy had immediately spun it into a novel. Since hardly anyone reads anymore in Italy, nothing came of it. And so, being unable to say no to that tremendous pain-in-the-ass of a man, he’d gone ahead and told him about a second case, and then a third and a fourth, which the author then wrote up in his way, using an invented language and working from his imagination.

He doesn’t just break the third wall in this story, he demolishes it and then dances on the rubble.

Of course, we get all our favorite characters and Montalbano tropes.

The door crashed hard against the wall, a bit of plaster fell to the floor, the inspector leapt to his feet, and Catarella begged his pardon, saying his hand had slipped. The usual ritual, in other words.

Fazio, feeling denied the pleasure of reciting all of Milioto’s personal particulars from the get-go, leapt up from his chair as if bitten by a tarantula.

It is a romp, and the bits where Montalbano and Camilleri talk are delightful.

You put up a good fight, Inspector. But let’s end it right here. I can’t show off too much erudition, since I’m considered a genre writer.

I need to think a bit more about the ending, and how I feel about it, but overall I found it quite satisfying. I’m sad there will be no more books, but happy we were left with this story to close the series.

Publisher: Penguin Books
Rating: 8/10


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