Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Julie's Review: The Track of Sand

Summary: At the start of bestseller Camilleri's robust 12th Inspector Montalbano mystery (after 2009's The Wings of the Sphinx), the Sicilian inspector looks out his window and sees the carcass of a horse on the beach. The animal, he discovers, has been bludgeoned to death. As he turns his back to phone in the crime, the horse vanishes, leaving a track in the sand. Was the horse slaughtered for its meat by illegal immigrants? Is someone trying to send a message to the owner? Or is the Mafia edging its way into the racing industry? The repeated vandalizing of Montalbano's home and a Mafia thug's murder complicate the investigation. The street-smart inspector takes a broadly comic trip to the racetrack in an effort to link all these events together. While convoluted plotting and byzantine complexities distract, Montalbano uses some creative chicanery and tweaking of the law to provide a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. ~amazon.com

Review: I really believe that crime is the same everywhere and while many of the police officer traits are the same the approach is different. The Track of Sand is the first crime/mystery novel I've read set in Sicily, Italy. It is the 12th book in the Inspector Montalbano series. I have to say that at times it was difficult to understand the history between the characters. Although it was quite evident early in the book that Montalbano is quite the ladies man.

This is the most unusual case since he's not investigating the murder of a person but of an animal, a horse who was killed in the most heinous way. The mysterious part of it was that as soon as he turned his back, the animal carcass was gone. Who would kill a horse on the beach and then come back for the body? Was this linked to the Mafia? Was it linked to illegal horse gambling/racing? Inspector Montalbano was going to find out.

Most of the novel leads him on a wild goose chase to figure out who killed the horse. Along the way he meets the interesting Rachele Eastman, who is the owner of one of the horse that went missing. I wasn't quite sure which way the plot was going to go, which was a good thing. Mr. Camilleri does an excellent job of having a few different plausible plots to consider.

I also enjoyed how the story was wrapped up at the end. Inspector Montalbano is very clever in the way that he gets the confession out of the criminal. The conclusion is in the final 15 pages of the book and wraps up all the plots very well.

If you are a fan of International police novels, then the Inspector Montalbano series is for you. You don't have to start at the beginning of the series but it probably helps. Although I didn't feel I needed a map to understand the basic plot.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to read.

Final Take: 3.75/5


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