Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

A Nest of Vipers

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Nest of Vipers (2013/2017) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (written in 2008)

Cosimo Barletta has been found shot in his beach house, but the murder is strange–stranger than a normal murder–and the dead man was so horrible there seem to be too many suspects to count.

“(H)ow did you explain to your father where you got the money?”

“I said I’d won a scholarship. After losing his job my dad wasn’t really all there and so he didn’t ask many questions. And my mother’s just a poor woman who . . . Then, luckily, my father found a new job. But Barletta wanted to continue.”

“How could he make you?”

“He blackmailed me.”


“He’d secretly taken photos with his cell phone as I . . . And he showed them to me and threatened to send them to my parents and boyfriend if I didn’t . . . He said I had to be at his beck and call until he no longer wanted me. Over the past month I managed not to run into him. But I couldn’t sleep at night, for fear he would make good on his threat.”

She looked up at the inspector and said by way of conclusion:

“I would spit on his corpse if I could.”

Which makes things difficult for Montalbano.

(I)t wasn’t as if he was itching to dive headlong into the investigation.

Because it was one thing to send the killer of a good man to jail, and it was something else entirely to put away someone who had killed a stinking scoundrel.

Of course, we get the usual characters, which lightens things a good deal.

“Ahh, Chief, Chief! Isspecter Augello’s wit’ Fazio in espectancy o’ yiz.”

“And I’m in arrivancy.”

We also see Livia visiting here, and for once, their relationship makes sense to me.

“If I tell you, will you get angry?”

“You let him seduce you among the cardboard boxes?”

“You are such a jerk! I’m not telling you anything else!”

“If you tell me I’ll give you this crispy little calamari ring.”

Livia laughed and continued.

That last element there is missing from so many other interactions between Salvo and Livia, to the point I never understood why they remain a couple. That helps a little.

Plus, Catarella.

“’ E called juss now! An’ ’e tol’ me ta tell yiz ’at as soon as ya do like wha’ the Madonna does . . .”

The inspector balked. “Is that what he said?”

“Nah, nat azackly, Chief, bu’ sints I fuhgot wha’ ’izzoner the c’mishner said azackly, I tought ’at mebbe if I mintioned the Madonna ya might figger out wha’ ’izzoner the c’mishner said. Know what I mean?”


Not only does that amuse me, but the whole passage makes Catarella seem less stupid than normal.

Was this an outstanding mystery? Not really. I saw who the murderers were pretty quickly, but spending time with Montalbano is always relaxing and enjoyable, so it really doesn’t matter how strong the mystery was, as long as the story was enjoyable.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Penguin


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