Goldfinger (James Bond Series #7)

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Overview

Auric Goldfinger, the most phenomenal criminal Bond has ever faced, is an evil genius who likes his cash in gold bars and his women dressed only in gold paint. After smuggling tons of gold out of Britain into secret vaults in Switzerland, this powerful villain is planning the biggest and most daring heist in history-robbing all the gold in Fort Knox. That is, unless Secret Agent 007 can foil his plan. In one of Ian Fleming's most popular adventures, James Bond tracks this most dangerous foe across two continents ...
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Overview

Auric Goldfinger, the most phenomenal criminal Bond has ever faced, is an evil genius who likes his cash in gold bars and his women dressed only in gold paint. After smuggling tons of gold out of Britain into secret vaults in Switzerland, this powerful villain is planning the biggest and most daring heist in history-robbing all the gold in Fort Knox. That is, unless Secret Agent 007 can foil his plan. In one of Ian Fleming's most popular adventures, James Bond tracks this most dangerous foe across two continents and takes on two of the most memorable villains ever created-a human weapon named Oddjob and a luscious female crime boss named Pussy Galore. REVIEW; A superlative thriller from our foremost literary magician. (The New York Herald Tribune)

Auric Goldfinger, the most phenomenal criminal Bond has ever faced, is an evil genius who likes his cash in gold bars and his women dressed only in gold paint. After smuggling tons of gold out of Britain into secret vaults in Switzerland, this powerful villain is planning the biggest and most daring heist in history-robbing all the gold in Fort Knox. That is, unless Secret Agent 007 can foil his plan. In one of Ian Fleming's most popular adventures, James Bond tracks this most dangerous foe across two continents and takes on two of the most memorable villains ever created-a human weapon named Oddjob and a luscious female crime boss named Pussy Galore. REVIEW; A superlative thriller from our foremost literary magician. (The New York Herald Tribune)

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The allure of James Bond was best described by Raymond Chandler, who insisted that 007 is "what every man would like to be and what every woman would like to have between her sheets." Who can argue with that? This month marks the 40th anniversary of the film release of Dr. No, which was the first Bond adventure to make the big screen, and two big coffee-table books are being published to honor the occasion (LJ 10/1/02, p. 96). Shockingly, Fleming's original novels have gone out of print, but Penguin here reproduces a trio of the British secret agent's early outings, released in 1952, 1958, and 1959, respectively, sporting stylish cover art. These stories were racy for the nifty Fifties but are quite tame by today's standards. Still, they can be fun. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142002049
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Series: James Bond Series , #7
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 7.58 (w) x 5.04 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Read an Excerpt

1. REFLECTIONS IN A DOUBLE BOURBON

James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.

It was part of his profession to kill people. He had never liked doing it and when he had to kill he did it as well as he knew how and forgot about it. As a secret agent who held the rare double-0 prefix—the licence to kill in the Secret Service - it was his duty to be as cool about death as a surgeon. If it happened, it happened. Regret was unprofessional—worse, it was death watch beetle in the soul.

And yet there had been something curiously impressive about the death of the Mexican. It wasn't that he hadn't deserved to die. He was an evil man, a man they call in Mexico a capungo. A capungo is a bandit who will kill for as little as forty pesos, which is about twenty-five shillings—though probably he had been paid more to attempt the killing of Bond—and, from the look of him, he had been an instrument of pain and misery all his life. Yes, it had certainly been time for him to die; but when Bond had killed him, less than twenty-four hours before, life had gone out of the body so quickly, so utterly, that Bond had almost seen it come out of his mouth as it does, in the shape of a bird, in Haitian primitives.

What an extraordinary difference there was between a body full of person and a body that was empty! Now there is someone, now there is no one. This had been a Mexican with a name and an address, an employment card and perhaps a driving licence. Then something had gone out of him, out of the envelope of flesh and cheap clothes, and had left him an empty paper bag waiting for the dustcart. And the difference, the thing that had gone out of the stinking Mexican bandit, was greater than all Mexico.

Bond looked down at the weapon that had done it. The cutting edge of his right hand was red and swollen. It would soon show a bruise. Bond flexed the hand, kneading it with his left. He had been doing the same thing at intervals through the quick plane trip that had got him away. It was a painful process, but if he kept the circulation moving the hand would heal more quickly. One couldn't tell how soon the weapon would be needed again. Cynicism gathered at the corners of Bond's mouth.

'National Airlines, Airline of the Stars', announces the departure of their flight NA 106 to La Guardia Field, New York. Will all passengers please proceed to gate number seven. All aboard, please.'

The Tannoy switched off with an echoing click. Bond glanced at his watch. At least another ten minutes before Transamerica would be called. He signalled to a waitress and ordered another double bourbon on the rocks. When the wide, chunky glass came, he swirled the liquor round for the ice to blunt it down and swallowed half of it. He stubbed out the butt of his cigarette and sat, his chin resting on his left hand, and gazed moodily across the twinkling tarmac to where the last half of the sun was slipping gloriously into the Gulf.

The death of the Mexican had been the finishing touch to a bad assignment, one of the worst—squalid, dangerous and without any redeeming feature except that it had got him away from headquarters.

A big man in Mexico had some poppy fields. The flowers were not for decoration. They were broken down for opium, which was sold quickly and comparatively cheaply by the waiters at a small cafe in Mexico City called the 'Madre de Cacao'. The Madre de Cacao had plenty of protection. If you needed opium you walked in and ordered what you wanted with your drink. You paid for your drink at the caisse and the man at the caisse told you how many noughts to add to your bill. It was an orderly commerce of no concern to anyone outside Mexico. Then, far away in England, the Government, urged on by the United Nations' drive against drug smuggling, announced that heroin would be banned in Britain. There was alarm in Soho and also among respectable doctors who wanted to save their patients agony. Prohibition is the trigger of crime. Very soon the routine smuggling channels from China, Turkey and Italy were run almost dry by the illicit stockpiling in England. In Mexico City, a pleasant-spoken Import and Export merchant called Blackwell had a sister in England who was a heroin addict. He loved her and was sorry for her and, when she wrote that she would die if someone didn't help, he believed that she wrote the truth and set about investigating the illicit dope traffic in Mexico. In due course, through friends and friends of friends, he got to the Madre de Cacao and on from there to the big Mexican grower. In the process, he came to know about the economics of the trade, and he decided that if he could make a fortune and at the same time help suffering humanity he had found the Secret of Life. Blackwell's business was in fertilisers. He had a warehouse and a small plant and a staff of three for soil testing and plant research. It was easy to persuade the big Mexican that, behind this respectable front, Blackwell's team could busy itself extracting heroin from opium. Carriage to England was swiftly arranged by the Mexican. For the equivalent of a thousand pounds a trip, every month one of the diplomatic couriers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carried an extra suitcase to London. The price was reasonable. The contents of the suitcase, after the Mexican had deposited it at the Victoria Station left-luggage office and had mailed the ticket to a man called Schwab, c/o Boox-an-Pix, Ltd, WCI, were worth twenty thousand pounds.

Unfortunately Schwab was a bad man, unconcerned with suffering humanity. He had the idea that if American juvenile delinquents could consume millions of dollars' worth of heroin every year, so could their Teddy boy and girl cousins. In two rooms in Pimlico, his staff watered the heroin with stomach powder and sent it on its way to the dance halls and amusement arcades.

Schwab had already made a fortune when the CID Ghost Squad got on to him. Scotland Yard decided to let him make a little more money while they investigated the source of his supply. They put a close tail on Schwab and in due course were led to Victoria Station and thence to the Mexican courier. At that stage, since a foreign country was concerned, the Secret Service had had to be called in and Bond was ordered to find out where the courier got his supplies and to destroy the channel at source.

Bond did as he was told. He flew to Mexico City and quickly got to the Madre de Cacao. Thence, posing as a buyer for the London traffic, he got back to the big Mexican. The Mexican received him amiably and referred him to Blackwell. Bond had rather taken to Blackwell. He knew nothing about Blackwell's sister, but the man was obviously an amateur and his bitterness about the heroin ban in England rang true. Bond broke into his warehouse one night and left a thermite bomb. He then went and sat in a cafe a mile away and watched the flames leap above the horizon of rooftops and listened to the silver cascade of the fire-brigade bells. The next morning he telephoned Blackwell. He stretched a handkerchief across the mouthpiece and spoke through it.

' Sorry you lost your business last night. I'm afraid your insurance won't cover those stocks of soil you were researching.'

'Who's that? Who's speaking?' 'I'm from England. That stuff of yours has killed quite a lot of young people over there. Damaged a lot of others. Santos won't be coming to England any more with his diplomatic bag. Schwab will be in jail by tonight. That fellow Bond you've been seeing, he won't get out of the net either. The police are after him now.'

Frightened words came back down the line.

'All right, but just don't do it again. Stick to fertilisers.'

Bond hung up.

Blackwell wouldn't have had the wits. It was obviously the big Mexican who had seen through the false trail. Bond had taken the precaution to move his hotel, but that night, as he walked home after a last drink at the Copacabana, a man suddenly stood in his way. The man wore a dirty white linen suit and a chauffeur's white cap that was too big for his head. There were deep blue shadows under Aztec cheekbones. In one corner of the slash of a mouth there was a toothpick and in the other a cigarette. The eyes were bright pin-pricks of marihuana.

'You like woman? Make jigajig?'

'No.'

'Coloured girl? Fine jungle tail?'

‘No.'

'Mebbe pictures?'

The gesture of the hand slipping into the coat was so well known to Bond, so full of old dangers that when the hand flashed out and the long silver finger went for his throat. Bond was on balance and ready for it.

Almost automatically, Bond went into the 'Parry Defence against Underhand Thrust' out of the book. His right arm cut across, his body swivelling with it. The two forearms met mid-way between the two bodies, banging the Mexican's knife arm off target and opening his guard for a crashing short-arm chin jab with Bond's left. Bond's stiff, locked wrist had not travelled far, perhaps two feet, but the heel of his palm, with fingers spread for rigidity, had come up and under the man's chin with terrific force. The blow almost lifted the man off the sidewalk. Perhaps it had been that blow that had killed the Mexican, broken his neck, but as he staggered back on his way to the ground, Bond had drawn back his right hand and slashed sideways at the taut, offered throat. It was the deadly hand-edge blow to the Adam's apple, delivered with the fingers locked into a blade, that had been the standby of the Commandos. If the Mexican was still alive, he was certainly dead before he hit the ground.

Bond stood for a moment, his chest heaving, and looked at the crumpled pile of cheap clothes flung down in the dust. He glanced up and down the street. There was no one. Some cars passed. Others had perhaps passed during the fight, but it had been in the shadows. Bond knelt down beside the body. There was no pulse. Already the eyes that had been so bright with marihuana were glazing. The house in which the Mexican had lived was empty. The tenant had left.

Bond picked up the body and laid it against a wall in deeper shadow. He brushed his hands down his clothes, felt to see if his tie was straight and went on to his hotel.

At dawn Bond had got up and shaved and driven to the airport where he took the first plane out of Mexico. It happened to be going to Caracas. Bond flew to Caracas and hung about in the transit lounge until there was a plane for Miami, a Transamerica Constellation that would take him on that same evening to New York.

Again the Tannoy buzzed and echoed.' Transamerica regrets to announce a delay on their flight TR 618 to New York due to a mechanical defect. The new departure time will be at eight am. Will all passengers please report to the Transamerica ticket counter where arrangements for their overnight accommodation will be made. Thank you.'

So! That too! Should he transfer to another flight or spend the night in Miami? Bond had forgotten his drink. He picked it up and, tilting his head back, swallowed the bourbon to the last drop. The ice tinkled cheerfully against his teeth. That was it. That was an idea. He would spend the night in Miami and get drunk, stinking drunk so that he would have to be carried to bed by whatever tart he had picked up. He hadn't been drunk for years. It was high time. This extra night, thrown at him out of the blue, was a spare night, a gone night. He would put it to good purpose. It was time he let himself go. He was too tense, too introspective. What the hell was he doing, glooming about this Mexican, this capungo who had been sent to kill him? It had been kill or get killed. Anyway, people were killing other people all the time, all over the world. People were using their motor cars to kill with. They were carrying infectious diseases around, blowing microbes in other people's faces, leaving gas jets turned on in kitchens, pumping out carbon monoxide in closed garages. How many people, for instance, were involved in manufacturing H-bombs, from the miners who mined the uranium to the shareholders who owned the mining shares? Was there any person in the world who wasn't somehow, perhaps only statistically, involved in killing his neighbour?

The last light of the day had gone. Below the indigo sky the flare paths twinkled green and yellow and threw tiny reflections off the oily skin of the tarmac. With a shattering roar a DC 7 hurtled down the main green lane. The windows in the transit lounge rattled softly. People got up to watch. Bond tried to read their expressions. Did they hope the plane would crash—give them something to watch, something to talk about, something to fill their empty lives? Or did they wish it well? Which way were they willing the sixty passengers? To live or to die?

Bond's lips turned down. Cut it out. Stop being so damned morbid. All this is just reaction from a dirty assignment. You're stale, tired of having to be tough. You want a change. You've seen too much death. You want a slice of life—easy, soft, high.

Bond was conscious of steps approaching. They stopped at his side. Bond looked up. It was a clean, rich-looking, middle-aged man. His expression was embarrassed, deprecating. 'Pardon me, but surely it's Mr Bond .. . Mr—er —James Bond?'

—Reprinted from The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri by permission of Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © May 2002, Andrea Camilleri. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano has become an international sensation whose adventures have been translated from Italian into eight languages, from Dutch to Japanese. The Shape of Water is the first book in this sly, witty, engaging series with its sardonic take on Sicilian life.

The goats of Vigata once grazed on the trash-strewn, sirocco-swept site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavor. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendor Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Lupanello, one of the local movers and shakers-apparently deceased in flagrante-at the Pasture. The coroner's verdict is death from natural causes-refreshingly unusual for Sicily. But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case-even though he's being pressured by Vigata's police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way nimbly through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta fire-power, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter. if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="ACD") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="EXC") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } 1

No light of daybreak filtered yet into the courtyard of Splendor, the company under government contract to collect trash in the town of Vig&aagrave;ta. A low, dense mass of clouds completely covered the sky as though a great gray tarp had been drawn from one corner to another. Not a single leaf fluttered. The sirocco was late to rise from its leaden sleep, yet people already struggled to exchange a few words. The foreman, before assign- ing the areas to be cleaned, announced that this day, and for some days to come, Peppe Schmmari and Caluzzo Brucculeri would be absent, excused from work. More than excused, they'd been arrested: the previous evening they'd attempted to rob a supermarket, weapons in hand. To Pino Catalano and Saro Montaperto-young land surveyors naturally without employment as land surveyors, but hired by Splendor as temporary "ecological agents" thanks to the generous string-pulling of Chamber Deputy Cusumano, in whose electoral campaign the two had fought body and soul (and in that order, with the body doing far more than the soul felt like doing)-the foreman assigned the jobs vacated by Peppe and Caluzzo, that is, the sector that went by the name of "the Pasture," because in a time now beyond memory a goatherd had apparently let his goats roam there. It was a broad tract of Mediterranean brush on the outskirts of town that stretched almost as far as the shore. Behind it lay the ruins of a large chemical works inaugurated by the ubiquitous Deputy Cusumano when it seemed the magnificent winds of progress were blowing strong. Soon, however, that breeze changed into the flimsiest of puffs before dropping altogether, but in that brief time it had managed to do more damage than a tornado, leaving a shambles of compensation benefits and unemployment in its wake. To prevent the crowds of black and not-so-black Senegalese, Algerians, Tunisians, and Libyans wandering about the city from nesting in that factory, a high wall had been built all around it, above which the old structures still soared, corroded by weather, neglect, and sea salt, looking more and more like architectures designed by Gaudì under the influence of hallucinogens.

Until recently the Pasture had represented, for those who at the time still went under the undignified name of garbage collectors, a cakewalk of a job: amid the scraps of paper, plastic bags, cans of beer and Coca-Cola, and shit piles barely covered up or left out in the open air, now and then a used condom would appear, and it would set one thinking, provided one had the desire and imagination to do so, about the details of that encounter. For a good year now, however, the occasional condom had turned into an ocean, a carpet of condoms, ever since a certain minister with a dark, taciturn face worthy of a Lombroso diagram had fished deep into his mind, which was even darker and more mysterious than his face, and come up with an idea he thought would solve all the South's law-and-order problems. He had managed to sell this idea to a colleague of his who dealt with the army and who, for his part, looked as if he had walked right out of a Pinocchio illustration, and together the two had decided to send a number of detachments to Sicily for the purpose of "controlling the territory," to lighten the load of the carabinieri, local police, intelligence services, special operations teams, coast guard, the highway police, railway police and port police, the anti-Mafia, anti-terrorism, anti-drug, anti-theft and anti-kidnapping commissions, and others-here omitted for the sake of brevity-quite busy with other business. Thanks to the brilliant idea of these two eminent statesmen, all the Piedmontese mama's boys and beardless Friulian conscripts who just the night before had enjoyed the crisp, fresh air of their mountains suddenly found themselves painfully short of breath, huffing in their temporary lodgings, in towns that stood barely a yard above sea level, among people who spoke an incomprehensible dialect consisting not so much of words as of silences, indecipherable movements of the eyebrows, imperceptible puckerings of the facial wrinkles. They adapted as best they could, thanks to their young age, and were given a helping hand by the residents of Vig&aagrave;ta themselves, who were moved to pity by the foreign boys' lost, bewildered looks. The one who saw to lessening the hardship of their exile was a certain Geg Gullotta, a fast thinker who until that moment had been forced to suppress his natural gifts as a pimp by dealing in light drugs. Having learned through channels both underhanded and ministerial of the soldiers' imminent arrival, Geg had had a flash of genius, and to put said flash to work for him he had promptly appealed to the beneficence of those in charge of such matters in order to obtain all the countless convoluted authorizations indispensable to his plan-those in charge being, that is, those who truly controlled the area and would never have dreamt of issuing officially stamped permits. Geg, in short, succeeded in opening a specialized market of fresh meat and many and sundry drugs, all light, at the Pasture. Most of the meat came from the former Eastern Bloc countries, now free at last of the Communist yoke which, as everyone knows, had denied all personal, human dignity; now, between the Pasture's bushes and sandy shore, come nightfall, that reconquered dignity shone again in all its magnificence. But there was also no lack of Third World women, transvestites, transsexuals, Neapolitan faggots, Brazilian viados-something for every taste, a feast, an embarrassment of riches. And business flourished, to the great satisfaction of the soldiers, Geg, and those who, for a proper cut of the proceeds, had granted Geg permission to operate. Pino and Saro headed toward their assigned work sector, each pushing his own cart. To get to the Pasture it took half an hour, if one was slow of foot as they were. The first fifteen minutes they spent without speaking, already sweaty and sticky. It was Saro who broke the silence.

"That Pecorilla is a bastard," he announced.

"A fucking bastard," clarified Pino.

Pecorilla was the foreman in charge of assigning the areas to be cleaned, and he nurtured an undisguised hatred for anyone with an education, having himself managed to finish middle school, at age forty, only thanks to Cusumano, who had a man-to-man talk with the teacher. Thus he manipulated things so that the hardest, most demeaning work always fell to the three university graduates in his charge. That same morning, in fact, he had assigned to Ciccu Loreto the stretch of wharf from which the mail boat sailed for the island of Lampedusa. Which meant that Ciccu, with his accounting degree, would be forced to account for the piles of trash that noisy mobs of tourists, many-tongued yet all sharing the same utter disregard for personal and public cleanliness, had left behind on Saturday and Sunday while waiting to embark. And no doubt Pino and Saro, after the soldiers' two days off duty, would find the Pasture one big glory hole.

When they reached the corner of Via Lincoln and Viale Kennedy (in Vig&aagrave;ta there was even a Cortile Eisenhower and a Vicolo Roosevelt), Saro stopped.

"I'm going to run upstairs and see how the little guy's doing," he said to his friend. "Wait here. I'll only be a minute."

Without waiting for Pino's answer, he slipped into one of those midget high-rises that were not more than twelve stories high, having been built around the same time as the chemical works and having just as quickly fallen into ruin, when not abandoned altogether. For someone approaching from the sea, Vig&aagrave;ta rose up like a parody of Manhattan, on a reduced scale. And this explained, perhaps, the names of some of its streets.

Nen, the little guy, was awake; he slept on and off some two hours a night, spending the rest of the time with eyes wide open, without ever crying. Who had ever seen a baby that didn't cry? Day after day he was consumed by an illness of unknown cause and cure. The doctors of Vig&aagrave;ta couldn't figure it out; his parents would have to take him somewhere else, to some big-shot specialist, but they didn't have the money. Nen grew sullen as soon as his eyes met his father's, a wrinkle forming across his forehead. He couldn't talk, but had expressed himself quite clearly with that silent reproach of the person who had put him in these straits.

"He's doing a little better, the fever's going down," said Tana, Saro's wife, just to make him happy.

The clouds had scattered, and now the sun was blazing hot enough to shatter rocks. Saro had already emptied his cart a dozen times in the garbage bin that had appeared, thanks to private initiative, where the rear exit of the factory used to be, and his back felt broken. When he was a few steps from the path that ran along the enclosure wall and led to the provincial road, he saw something sparkle violently on the ground. He bent down to have a better look. It was a heart-shaped pendant, enormous, studded with little diamonds all around and with one great big diamond in the middle. The solid-gold chain was still attached, though broken in one spot. Saro's right hand shot out, grabbed the necklace, and stuffed it in his pocket. The hand seemed to have acted on its own, before his brain, still flabbergasted by the discovery, could tell it anything. Standing up again, drenched in sweat, he looked around but didn't see a living soul.

Pino, who had chosen to work the stretch of the Pasture nearest the beach, at one point spotted the nose of a car about twenty yards away, sticking out of some bushes a bit denser than the rest. Unsure, he stopped; it wasn't possible someone could still be around here at this hour, seven in the morning, screwing a whore. He began to approach cautiously, one step at a time, almost bent over, and when he'd reached the taillights he quickly stood straight up. Nothing happened, nobody shouted to fuck off, the car seemed vacant. Coming nearer, he finally made out the indistinct shape of a man, motionless, in the passenger seat, head thrown back. He seemed to be in a deep sleep. But by the look and the smell of it, Pino realized something was fishy. He turned around and called to Saro, who came running, out of breath, eyes bulging.

"What is it? What the hell do you want?"

Pino thought his friend's questions a bit aggressive but blamed it on the fact that he had run all that way.

"Get a load of this," he said.

Plucking up his courage, Pino went up to the driver's side and tried to open the door but couldn't: it was locked. With the help of Saro, who seemed to have calmed down, he tried to reach the other door, against which the man's body was partially leaning, but the car, a large green BMW, was too close to the shrub to allow anyone to approach from that side. Leaning forward, however, and getting scratched by the brambles, they managed to get a better look at the man's face. He was not sleeping; his eyes were wide open and motionless. The moment they realized that the man was dead, Pino and Saro froze in terror-not at the sight of death but because they recognized him.

"I feel like I'm taking a sauna," said Saro as he ran along the provincial road toward a telephone booth. "A blast of cold one minute, a blast of heat the next."

They had agreed on one thing since overcoming their paralysis upon recognizing the deceased: before alerting the police, they had to make another phone call. They knew Deputy Cusumano's number by heart, and Saro dialed it. But Pino didn't let the phone ring even once.

"Hang up, quick!" he said.

Saro obeyed automatically.

"You don't want to tell him?"

"Let's just think for a minute, let's think hard. This is very important. You know as well as I do that Cusumano is a puppet."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"He's a puppet of Luparello, who is everything-or was everything. With Luparello dead, Cusumano's a nobody, a doormat."

"So?"

"So nothing."

They turned back toward Vig&aagrave;ta, but after a few steps Pino stopped Saro.

"Rizzo, the lawyer," he said.

"I'm not going to call that guy. He gives me the creeps. I don't even know him."

"I don't either, but I'm going to call him anyway."

Pino got the number from the operator. Though it was still only seven forty-five, Rizzo answered after the first ring.

"Mr. Rizzo?"

"Yes?"

"Excuse me for bothering you at this hour, Mr. Rizzo, but . . . we found Mr. Luparello, you see, and . . . well, he looks dead."

There was a pause. Then Rizzo spoke.

"So why are you telling me this?"

Pino was stunned. He was ready for anything, except that bizarre response.

"But . . . aren't you his best friend? We thought it was only right-"

"I appreciate it. But you must do your duty first. Good day."

Saro had been listening to the conversation, his cheek pressed against Pino's. They looked at each other, nonplussed. Rizzo acted as if they'd told him they'd just found some nameless cadaver.

"Shit! He was his friend, wasn't he?" Saro burst out.

"What do we know? Maybe they had a fight," said Pino to reassure him.

"So what do we do now?"

"We go and do our duty, like the lawyer said," concluded Pino.

They headed toward town, to police headquarters. The thought of going to the carabinieri didn't even cross their minds, since they were under the command of a Milanese lieutenant. The Vigˆta police inspector, on the other hand, was from Catania, a certain Salvo Montalbano, who, when he wanted to get to the bottom of something, he did.

—Reprinted from The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri by permission of Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © May 2002, Andrea Camilleri. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="REV") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="QUE") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="NOT") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="TAB") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="PRL") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="0" && SYM=="MIS") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="SYN") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano has become an international sensation whose adventures have been translated from Italian into eight languages, from Dutch to Japanese. The Shape of Water is the first book in this sly, witty, engaging series with its sardonic take on Sicilian life.

The goats of Vigata once grazed on the trash-strewn, sirocco-swept site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavor. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendor Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Lupanello, one of the local movers and shakers-apparently deceased in flagrante-at the Pasture. The coroner's verdict is death from natural causes-refreshingly unusual for Sicily. But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case-even though he's being pressured by Vigata's police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way nimbly through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta fire-power, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter. if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="ACD") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="EXC") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } 1

No light of daybreak filtered yet into the courtyard of Splendor, the company under government contract to collect trash in the town of Vig&aagrave;ta. A low, dense mass of clouds completely covered the sky as though a great gray tarp had been drawn from one corner to another. Not a single leaf fluttered. The sirocco was late to rise from its leaden sleep, yet people already struggled to exchange a few words. The foreman, before assign- ing the areas to be cleaned, announced that this day, and for some days to come, Peppe Schmmari and Caluzzo Brucculeri would be absent, excused from work. More than excused, they'd been arrested: the previous evening they'd attempted to rob a supermarket, weapons in hand. To Pino Catalano and Saro Montaperto-young land surveyors naturally without employment as land surveyors, but hired by Splendor as temporary "ecological agents" thanks to the generous string-pulling of Chamber Deputy Cusumano, in whose electoral campaign the two had fought body and soul (and in that order, with the body doing far more than the soul felt like doing)-the foreman assigned the jobs vacated by Peppe and Caluzzo, that is, the sector that went by the name of "the Pasture," because in a time now beyond memory a goatherd had apparently let his goats roam there. It was a broad tract of Mediterranean brush on the outskirts of town that stretched almost as far as the shore. Behind it lay the ruins of a large chemical works inaugurated by the ubiquitous Deputy Cusumano when it seemed the magnificent winds of progress were blowing strong. Soon, however, that breeze changed into the flimsiest of puffs before dropping altogether, but in that brief time it had managed to do more damage than a tornado, leaving a shambles of compensation benefits and unemployment in its wake. To prevent the crowds of black and not-so-black Senegalese, Algerians, Tunisians, and Libyans wandering about the city from nesting in that factory, a high wall had been built all around it, above which the old structures still soared, corroded by weather, neglect, and sea salt, looking more and more like architectures designed by Gaudì under the influence of hallucinogens.

Until recently the Pasture had represented, for those who at the time still went under the undignified name of garbage collectors, a cakewalk of a job: amid the scraps of paper, plastic bags, cans of beer and Coca-Cola, and shit piles barely covered up or left out in the open air, now and then a used condom would appear, and it would set one thinking, provided one had the desire and imagination to do so, about the details of that encounter. For a good year now, however, the occasional condom had turned into an ocean, a carpet of condoms, ever since a certain minister with a dark, taciturn face worthy of a Lombroso diagram had fished deep into his mind, which was even darker and more mysterious than his face, and come up with an idea he thought would solve all the South's law-and-order problems. He had managed to sell this idea to a colleague of his who dealt with the army and who, for his part, looked as if he had walked right out of a Pinocchio illustration, and together the two had decided to send a number of detachments to Sicily for the purpose of "controlling the territory," to lighten the load of the carabinieri, local police, intelligence services, special operations teams, coast guard, the highway police, railway police and port police, the anti-Mafia, anti-terrorism, anti-drug, anti-theft and anti-kidnapping commissions, and others-here omitted for the sake of brevity-quite busy with other business. Thanks to the brilliant idea of these two eminent statesmen, all the Piedmontese mama's boys and beardless Friulian conscripts who just the night before had enjoyed the crisp, fresh air of their mountains suddenly found themselves painfully short of breath, huffing in their temporary lodgings, in towns that stood barely a yard above sea level, among people who spoke an incomprehensible dialect consisting not so much of words as of silences, indecipherable movements of the eyebrows, imperceptible puckerings of the facial wrinkles. They adapted as best they could, thanks to their young age, and were given a helping hand by the residents of Vig&aagrave;ta themselves, who were moved to pity by the foreign boys' lost, bewildered looks. The one who saw to lessening the hardship of their exile was a certain Geg Gullotta, a fast thinker who until that moment had been forced to suppress his natural gifts as a pimp by dealing in light drugs. Having learned through channels both underhanded and ministerial of the soldiers' imminent arrival, Geg had had a flash of genius, and to put said flash to work for him he had promptly appealed to the beneficence of those in charge of such matters in order to obtain all the countless convoluted authorizations indispensable to his plan-those in charge being, that is, those who truly controlled the area and would never have dreamt of issuing officially stamped permits. Geg, in short, succeeded in opening a specialized market of fresh meat and many and sundry drugs, all light, at the Pasture. Most of the meat came from the former Eastern Bloc countries, now free at last of the Communist yoke which, as everyone knows, had denied all personal, human dignity; now, between the Pasture's bushes and sandy shore, come nightfall, that reconquered dignity shone again in all its magnificence. But there was also no lack of Third World women, transvestites, transsexuals, Neapolitan faggots, Brazilian viados-something for every taste, a feast, an embarrassment of riches. And business flourished, to the great satisfaction of the soldiers, Geg, and those who, for a proper cut of the proceeds, had granted Geg permission to operate. Pino and Saro headed toward their assigned work sector, each pushing his own cart. To get to the Pasture it took half an hour, if one was slow of foot as they were. The first fifteen minutes they spent without speaking, already sweaty and sticky. It was Saro who broke the silence.

"That Pecorilla is a bastard," he announced.

"A fucking bastard," clarified Pino.

Pecorilla was the foreman in charge of assigning the areas to be cleaned, and he nurtured an undisguised hatred for anyone with an education, having himself managed to finish middle school, at age forty, only thanks to Cusumano, who had a man-to-man talk with the teacher. Thus he manipulated things so that the hardest, most demeaning work always fell to the three university graduates in his charge. That same morning, in fact, he had assigned to Ciccu Loreto the stretch of wharf from which the mail boat sailed for the island of Lampedusa. Which meant that Ciccu, with his accounting degree, would be forced to account for the piles of trash that noisy mobs of tourists, many-tongued yet all sharing the same utter disregard for personal and public cleanliness, had left behind on Saturday and Sunday while waiting to embark. And no doubt Pino and Saro, after the soldiers' two days off duty, would find the Pasture one big glory hole.

When they reached the corner of Via Lincoln and Viale Kennedy (in Vig&aagrave;ta there was even a Cortile Eisenhower and a Vicolo Roosevelt), Saro stopped.

"I'm going to run upstairs and see how the little guy's doing," he said to his friend. "Wait here. I'll only be a minute."

Without waiting for Pino's answer, he slipped into one of those midget high-rises that were not more than twelve stories high, having been built around the same time as the chemical works and having just as quickly fallen into ruin, when not abandoned altogether. For someone approaching from the sea, Vig&aagrave;ta rose up like a parody of Manhattan, on a reduced scale. And this explained, perhaps, the names of some of its streets.

Nen, the little guy, was awake; he slept on and off some two hours a night, spending the rest of the time with eyes wide open, without ever crying. Who had ever seen a baby that didn't cry? Day after day he was consumed by an illness of unknown cause and cure. The doctors of Vig&aagrave;ta couldn't figure it out; his parents would have to take him somewhere else, to some big-shot specialist, but they didn't have the money. Nen grew sullen as soon as his eyes met his father's, a wrinkle forming across his forehead. He couldn't talk, but had expressed himself quite clearly with that silent reproach of the person who had put him in these straits.

"He's doing a little better, the fever's going down," said Tana, Saro's wife, just to make him happy.

The clouds had scattered, and now the sun was blazing hot enough to shatter rocks. Saro had already emptied his cart a dozen times in the garbage bin that had appeared, thanks to private initiative, where the rear exit of the factory used to be, and his back felt broken. When he was a few steps from the path that ran along the enclosure wall and led to the provincial road, he saw something sparkle violently on the ground. He bent down to have a better look. It was a heart-shaped pendant, enormous, studded with little diamonds all around and with one great big diamond in the middle. The solid-gold chain was still attached, though broken in one spot. Saro's right hand shot out, grabbed the necklace, and stuffed it in his pocket. The hand seemed to have acted on its own, before his brain, still flabbergasted by the discovery, could tell it anything. Standing up again, drenched in sweat, he looked around but didn't see a living soul.

Pino, who had chosen to work the stretch of the Pasture nearest the beach, at one point spotted the nose of a car about twenty yards away, sticking out of some bushes a bit denser than the rest. Unsure, he stopped; it wasn't possible someone could still be around here at this hour, seven in the morning, screwing a whore. He began to approach cautiously, one step at a time, almost bent over, and when he'd reached the taillights he quickly stood straight up. Nothing happened, nobody shouted to fuck off, the car seemed vacant. Coming nearer, he finally made out the indistinct shape of a man, motionless, in the passenger seat, head thrown back. He seemed to be in a deep sleep. But by the look and the smell of it, Pino realized something was fishy. He turned around and called to Saro, who came running, out of breath, eyes bulging.

"What is it? What the hell do you want?"

Pino thought his friend's questions a bit aggressive but blamed it on the fact that he had run all that way.

"Get a load of this," he said.

Plucking up his courage, Pino went up to the driver's side and tried to open the door but couldn't: it was locked. With the help of Saro, who seemed to have calmed down, he tried to reach the other door, against which the man's body was partially leaning, but the car, a large green BMW, was too close to the shrub to allow anyone to approach from that side. Leaning forward, however, and getting scratched by the brambles, they managed to get a better look at the man's face. He was not sleeping; his eyes were wide open and motionless. The moment they realized that the man was dead, Pino and Saro froze in terror-not at the sight of death but because they recognized him.

"I feel like I'm taking a sauna," said Saro as he ran along the provincial road toward a telephone booth. "A blast of cold one minute, a blast of heat the next."

They had agreed on one thing since overcoming their paralysis upon recognizing the deceased: before alerting the police, they had to make another phone call. They knew Deputy Cusumano's number by heart, and Saro dialed it. But Pino didn't let the phone ring even once.

"Hang up, quick!" he said.

Saro obeyed automatically.

"You don't want to tell him?"

"Let's just think for a minute, let's think hard. This is very important. You know as well as I do that Cusumano is a puppet."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"He's a puppet of Luparello, who is everything-or was everything. With Luparello dead, Cusumano's a nobody, a doormat."

"So?"

"So nothing."

They turned back toward Vig&aagrave;ta, but after a few steps Pino stopped Saro.

"Rizzo, the lawyer," he said.

"I'm not going to call that guy. He gives me the creeps. I don't even know him."

"I don't either, but I'm going to call him anyway."

Pino got the number from the operator. Though it was still only seven forty-five, Rizzo answered after the first ring.

"Mr. Rizzo?"

"Yes?"

"Excuse me for bothering you at this hour, Mr. Rizzo, but . . . we found Mr. Luparello, you see, and . . . well, he looks dead."

There was a pause. Then Rizzo spoke.

"So why are you telling me this?"

Pino was stunned. He was ready for anything, except that bizarre response.

"But . . . aren't you his best friend? We thought it was only right-"

"I appreciate it. But you must do your duty first. Good day."

Saro had been listening to the conversation, his cheek pressed against Pino's. They looked at each other, nonplussed. Rizzo acted as if they'd told him they'd just found some nameless cadaver.

"Shit! He was his friend, wasn't he?" Saro burst out.

"What do we know? Maybe they had a fight," said Pino to reassure him.

"So what do we do now?"

"We go and do our duty, like the lawyer said," concluded Pino.

They headed toward town, to police headquarters. The thought of going to the carabinieri didn't even cross their minds, since they were under the command of a Milanese lieutenant. The Vigˆta police inspector, on the other hand, was from Catania, a certain Salvo Montalbano, who, when he wanted to get to the bottom of something, he did.

—Reprinted from The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri by permission of Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © May 2002, Andrea Camilleri. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="REV") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="QUE") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="NOT") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="TAB") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="PRL") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="10" && SYM=="MIS") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="50" && SYM=="SYN") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano has become an international sensation whose adventures have been translated from Italian into eight languages, from Dutch to Japanese. The Shape of Water is the first book in this sly, witty, engaging series with its sardonic take on Sicilian life.

The goats of Vigata once grazed on the trash-strewn, sirocco-swept site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavor. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendor Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Lupanello, one of the local movers and shakers-apparently deceased in flagrante-at the Pasture. The coroner's verdict is death from natural causes-refreshingly unusual for Sicily. But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case-even though he's being pressured by Vigata's police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way nimbly through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta fire-power, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter. if (contentWritten=="no" && CoreSetId=="50" && SYM=="EXC") { contentWritten="yes"; document.write(""); } else { document.write(""); } 1

No light of daybreak filtered yet into the courtyard of Splendor, the company under government contract to collect trash in the town of Vig&aagrave;ta. A low, dense mass of clouds completely covered the sky as though a great gray tarp had been drawn from one corner to another. Not a single leaf fluttered. The sirocco was late to rise from its leaden sleep, yet people already struggled to exchange a few words. The foreman, before assign- ing the areas to be cleaned, announced that this day, and for some days to come, Peppe Schmmari and Caluzzo Brucculeri would be absent, excused from work. More than excused, they'd been arrested: the previous evening they'd attempted to rob a supermarket, weapons in hand. To Pino Catalano and Saro Montaperto-young land surveyors naturally without employment as land surveyors, but hired by Splendor as temporary "ecological agents" thanks to the generous string-pulling of Chamber Deputy Cusumano, in whose electoral campaign the two had fought body and soul (and in that order, with the body doing far more than the soul felt like doing)-the foreman assigned the jobs vacated by Peppe and Caluzzo, that is, the sector that went by the name of "the Pasture," because in a time now beyond memory a goatherd had apparently let his goats roam there. It was a broad tract of Mediterranean brush on the outskirts of town that stretched almost as far as the shore. Behind it lay the ruins of a large chemical works inaugurated by the ubiquitous Deputy Cusumano when it seemed the magnificent winds of progress were blowing strong. Soon, however, that breeze changed into the flimsiest of puffs before dropping altogether, but in that brief time it had managed to do more damage than a tornado, leaving a shambles of compensation benefits and unemployment in its wake. To prevent the crowds of black and not-so-black Senegalese, Algerians, Tunisians, and Libyans wandering about the city from nesting in that factory, a high wall had been built all around it, above which the old structures still soared, corroded by weather, neglect, and sea salt, looking more and more like architectures designed by Gaudì under the influence of hallucinogens.

Until recently the Pasture had represented, for those who at the time still went under the undignified name of garbage collectors, a cakewalk of a job: amid the scraps of paper, plastic bags, cans of beer and Coca-Cola, and shit piles barely covered up or left out in the open air, now and then a used condom would appear, and it would set one thinking, provided one had the desire and imagination to do so, about the details of that encounter. For a good year now, however, the occasional condom had turned into an ocean, a carpet of condoms, ever since a certain minister with a dark, taciturn face worthy of a Lombroso diagram had fished deep into his mind, which was even darker and more mysterious than his face, and come up with an idea he thought would solve all the South's law-and-order problems. He had managed to sell this idea to a colleague of his who dealt with the army and who, for his part, looked as if he had walked right out of a Pinocchio illustration, and together the two had decided to send a number of detachments to Sicily for the purpose of "controlling the territory," to lighten the load of the carabinieri, local police, intelligence services, special operations teams, coast guard, the highway police, railway police and port police, the anti-Mafia, anti-terrorism, anti-drug, anti-theft and anti-kidnapping commissions, and others-here omitted for the sake of brevity-quite busy with other business. Thanks to the brilliant idea of these two eminent statesmen, all the Piedmontese mama's boys and beardless Friulian conscripts who just the night before had enjoyed the crisp, fresh air of their mountains suddenly found themselves painfully short of breath, huffing in their temporary lodgings, in towns that stood barely a yard above sea level, among people who spoke an incomprehensible dialect consisting not so much of words as of silences, indecipherable movements of the eyebrows, imperceptible puckerings of the facial wrinkles. They adapted as best they could, thanks to their young age, and were given a helping hand by the residents of Vig&aagrave;ta themselves, who were moved to pity by the foreign boys' lost, bewildered looks. The one who saw to lessening the hardship of their exile was a certain Geg Gullotta, a fast thinker who until that moment had been forced to suppress his natural gifts as a pimp by dealing in light drugs. Having learned through channels both underhanded and ministerial of the soldiers' imminent arrival, Geg had had a flash of genius, and to put said flash to work for him he had promptly appealed to the beneficence of those in charge of such matters in order to obtain all the countless convoluted authorizations indispensable to his plan-those in charge being, that is, those who truly controlled the area and would never have dreamt of issuing officially stamped permits. Geg, in short, succeeded in opening a specialized market of fresh meat and many and sundry drugs, all light, at the Pasture. Most of the meat came from the former Eastern Bloc countries, now free at last of the Communist yoke which, as everyone knows, had denied all personal, human dignity; now, between the Pasture's bushes and sandy shore, come nightfall, that reconquered dignity shone again in all its magnificence. But there was also no lack of Third World women, transvestites, transsexuals, Neapolitan faggots, Brazilian viados-something for every taste, a feast, an embarrassment of riches. And business flourished, to the great satisfaction of the soldiers, Geg, and those who, for a proper cut of the proceeds, had granted Geg permission to operate. Pino and Saro headed toward their assigned work sector, each pushing his own cart. To get to the Pasture it took half an hour, if one was slow of foot as they were. The first fifteen minutes they spent without speaking, already sweaty and sticky. It was Saro who broke the silence.

"That Pecorilla is a bastard," he announced.

"A fucking bastard," clarified Pino.

Pecorilla was the foreman in charge of assigning the areas to be cleaned, and he nurtured an undisguised hatred for anyone with an education, having himself managed to finish middle school, at age forty, only thanks to Cusumano, who had a man-to-man talk with the teacher. Thus he manipulated things so that the hardest, most demeaning work always fell to the three university graduates in his charge. That same morning, in fact, he had assigned to Ciccu Loreto the stretch of wharf from which the mail boat sailed for the island of Lampedusa. Which meant that Ciccu, with his accounting degree, would be forced to account for the piles of trash that noisy mobs of tourists, many-tongued yet all sharing the same utter disregard for personal and public cleanliness, had left behind on Saturday and Sunday while waiting to embark. And no doubt Pino and Saro, after the soldiers' two days off duty, would find the Pasture one big glory hole.

When they reached the corner of Via Lincoln and Viale Kennedy (in Vig&aagrave;ta there was even a Cortile Eisenhower and a Vicolo Roosevelt), Saro stopped.

"I'm going to run upstairs and see how the little guy's doing," he said to his friend. "Wait here. I'll only be a minute."

Without waiting for Pino's answer, he slipped into one of those midget high-rises that were not more than twelve stories high, having been built around the same time as the chemical works and having just as quickly fallen into ruin, when not abandoned altogether. For someone approaching from the sea, Vig&aagrave;ta rose up like a parody of Manhattan, on a reduced scale. And this explained, perhaps, the names of some of its streets.

Nen, the little guy, was awake; he slept on and off some two hours a night, spending the rest of the time with eyes wide open, without ever crying. Who had ever seen a baby that didn't cry? Day after day he was consumed by an illness of unknown cause and cure. The doctors of Vig&aagrave;ta couldn't figure it out; his parents would have to take him somewhere else, to some big-shot specialist, but they didn't have the money. Nen grew sullen as soon as his eyes met his father's, a wrinkle forming across his forehead. He couldn't talk, but had expressed himself quite clearly with that silent reproach of the person who had put him in these straits.

"He's doing a little better, the fever's going down," said Tana, Saro's wife, just to make him happy.

The clouds had scattered, and now the sun was blazing hot enough to shatter rocks. Saro had already emptied his cart a dozen times in the garbage bin that had appeared, thanks to private initiative, where the rear exit of the factory used to be, and his back felt broken. When he was a few steps from the path that ran along the enclosure wall and led to the provincial road, he saw something sparkle violently on the ground. He bent down to have a better look. It was a heart-shaped pendant, enormous, studded with little diamonds all around and with one great big diamond in the middle. The solid-gold chain was still attached, though broken in one spot. Saro's right hand shot out, grabbed the necklace, and stuffed it in his pocket. The hand seemed to have acted on its own, before his brain, still flabbergasted by the discovery, could tell it anything. Standing up again, drenched in sweat, he looked around but didn't see a living soul.

Pino, who had chosen to work the stretch of the Pasture nearest the beach, at one point spotted the nose of a car about twenty yards away, sticking out of some bushes a bit denser than the rest. Unsure, he stopped; it wasn't possible someone could still be around here at this hour, seven in the morning, screwing a whore. He began to approach cautiously, one step at a time, almost bent over, and when he'd reached the taillights he quickly stood straight up. Nothing happened, nobody shouted to fuck off, the car seemed vacant. Coming nearer, he finally made out the indistinct shape of a man, motionless, in the passenger seat, head thrown back. He seemed to be in a deep sleep. But by the look and the smell of it, Pino realized something was fishy. He turned around and called to Saro, who came running, out of breath, eyes bulging.

"What is it? What the hell do you want?"

Pino thought his friend's questions a bit aggressive but blamed it on the fact that he had run all that way.

"Get a load of this," he said.

Plucking up his courage, Pino went up to the driver's side and tried to open the door but couldn't: it was locked. With the help of Saro, who seemed to have calmed down, he tried to reach the other door, against which the man's body was partially leaning, but the car, a large green BMW, was too close to the shrub to allow anyone to approach from that side. Leaning forward, however, and getting scratched by the brambles, they managed to get a better look at the man's face. He was not sleeping; his eyes were wide open and motionless. The moment they realized that the man was dead, Pino and Saro froze in terror-not at the sight of death but because they recognized him.

"I feel like I'm taking a sauna," said Saro as he ran along the provincial road toward a telephone booth. "A blast of cold one minute, a blast of heat the next."

They had agreed on one thing since overcoming their paralysis upon recognizing the deceased: before alerting the police, they had to make another phone call. They knew Deputy Cusumano's number by heart, and Saro dialed it. But Pino didn't let the phone ring even once.

"Hang up, quick!" he said.

Saro obeyed automatically.

"You don't want to tell him?"

"Let's just think for a minute, let's think hard. This is very important. You know as well as I do that Cusumano is a puppet."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"He's a puppet of Luparello, who is everything-or was everything. With Luparello dead, Cusumano's a nobody, a doormat."

"So?"

"So nothing."

They turned back toward Vig&aagrave;ta, but after a few steps Pino stopped Saro.

"Rizzo, the lawyer," he said.

"I'm not going to call that guy. He gives me the creeps. I don't even know him."

"I don't either, but I'm going to call him anyway."

Pino got the number from the operator. Though it was still only seven forty-five, Rizzo answered after the first ring.

"Mr. Rizzo?"

"Yes?"

"Excuse me for bothering you at this hour, Mr. Rizzo, but . . . we found Mr. Luparello, you see, and . . . well, he looks dead."

There was a pause. Then Rizzo spoke.

"So why are you telling me this?"

Pino was stunned. He was ready for anything, except that bizarre response.

"But . . . aren't you his best friend? We thought it was only right-"

"I appreciate it. But you must do your duty first. Good day."

Saro had been listening to the conversation, his cheek pressed against Pino's. They looked at each other, nonplussed. Rizzo acted as if they'd told him they'd just found some nameless cadaver.

"Shit! He was his friend, wasn't he?" Saro burst out.

"What do we know? Maybe they had a fight," said Pino to reassure him.

"So what do we do now?"

"We go and do our duty, like the lawyer said," concluded Pino.

They headed toward town, to police headquarters. The thought of going to the carabinieri didn't even cross their minds, since they were under the command of a Milanese lieutenant. The Vigˆta police inspector, on the other hand, was from Catania, a certain Salvo Montalbano, who, when he wanted to get to the bottom of something, he did.

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 8, 2011

    better than the movie

    yes, the book is more believable than the 2-hour on-screen fantasy of 1963. after all, with all the opportunities that goldfinger had to kill bond, but hey, then neither the book nor the movie would have been possible, eh ?

    i the book, goldfinger has bond cornered and helpless in switzerland and could have killed him right there, but then hires him instead to help rob fort knox.

    otherwise, the stories which followed this one could never have been written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Please bring back to the nook and I would buy them all-- Garrett

    Please bring back to the nook and I would buy them all-- Garrett

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2001

    Goldfinger: Best Bond Novel

    Goldfinger, by Ian Fleming was a very entertaining book. this James Bond novel takes you into acutely-described, and luscious settings. Goldfinger is a very suspenseful and gripping tale about a billionaire gold smuggler, Goldfinger, out to achieve the pinnacle of human endeavor in crime: rob Fort Knox! This book kept me attached and attentive throughout. Goldfinger has many well -developed and interesting characters: Goldfinger, a billionaire with a fetish for gold; Oddjob, Goldfinger's mute and frighteningly powerful chauffer/servant; and the mysterious Pussy Galore. In comparison to the movie, the book is much better. The only fault that the novel Goldfinger might have is that you can sort of follow along with the book and know what will happen if you've seen the movie. But even though I've seen the movie hundreds of times, the book was still a suspenseful and moving expperience.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 23, 2009

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