Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Terra-Cotta Dog

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Terra-Cotta Dog (1996/2004) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli

The second Montalbano book was, according the Camilleri, was supposed to be the last.

I felt less than fully satisfied with how the figure of Montalbano had come out. I felt as if I had painted an incomplete portrait of him, favoring his role as a detective while neglecting certain aspects of his character. In short, he seemed only half resolved. And it bothered me a lot to leave him unfinished. I always try to bring everything I start to completion.

And so, out of sort of concern for craft, I decided to write a second novel on this police inspector and thereby conclude my brief career as a mystery writer.

Montalbano is called by his old friend Gege for a meeting. When Gege tells him that the mafioso Tano wants to meet him, only Montalbano’s long history with Gege sends him to the meeting.

Meanwhile, a local supermarket is robbed of it’s recent delivery, except that the loot appears later, in a truck abandoned by the side of the road.

PLUS(!), we are introduced to Catarella. I was correct in my memory that Montalbano didn’t like Catarella at all at first.

This Catarella was frankly hopeless. Slow to think and slow to act, he had been hired by the police because he was a distant relative of the formerly all-powerful Chamber Deputy Cusumano.

I’m very glad that Catarella gets reformed. Well, not really reformed, but rather that Montalbano eventually develops an affection for him.

And even on the second reading, it’s still fascinating how policing works in Italy.

They had an unwritten understanding with the National Police. Whoever arrived first at the scene of a crime would shout “Bingo!” and take the case. This prevented meddling, polemics, elbowing, and long faces.
But Fazio was gloomy. “They got here first.”
“So what? What do you care? We’re not paid by the corpse, on a job-by-job basis.”

This story takes some strange twists, but is just as fascinating as the first.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Penguin


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