Tuesday, July 24, 2007

[Book Review] THE SNACK THIEF by Andrea Camilleri

Fiction/Mystery, International

Doris Dixon reviews THE SNACK THIEF by Andrea Camilleri (Viking, 2003)

Two murder investigations distract Inspector Montalbano from his chief passion--devouring the cuisine of his native Sicily. In the first case, a sailor is murdered on a Tunisian trawler that had ventured illegally into Italian waters. In the other, the residents of an apartment building find the corpse of a fellow resident in the building's elevator. The Inspector must deal with hysterical people in both instances: irate, scheming bureaucrats and politicians in the former and disgruntled, meddlesome residents in the latter.

Montalbano discovers that a beautiful Tunisian housekeeper/prostitute is implicated in both cases. When she turns up missing, the Inspector reluctantly takes in her young son, who is the snack thief of the book's title. Montalbano, who desperately wants to get rid of the boy and return to his favorite pastimes, summons the full power of his sleuthing skills to solve the murders.

I enjoyed much about this book. In particular, I appreciated the insights the author offers into Sicily's politics and culture and the lives of its Tunisian immigrants. His depictions of the many people who annoy the Inspector are humorous. Other readers will no doubt enjoy Camilleri's lush descriptions of Sicilian cuisine.

The Snack Thief is part of Camillerri's Inspector Montalbano series of mysteries. This is the third title to be translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli.

Doris Dixon, Raleigh Branch Library

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