The Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano Series #2)

The Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano Series #2)

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Overview

Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano has garnered millions of fans worldwide with his sardonic, engaging take on Sicilian life and his genius for deciphering the most enigmatic of crimes.

The Terra-cotta Dog opens with the inspector's mysterious tte-ˆ-tte with a mafioso, some inexplicably abandoned loot from a supermarket heist, and dying words that lead him to an illegal arms cache in a mountain cave. There, in a secret grotto, he finds a harrowing scene: two young lovers, dead fifty years and still embracing, watched over by a life-size terra-cotta dog. Montalbano's passion to solve this old crime takes him, heedless of personal danger, on a journey through the island's past and into a family's dark heart amid the horrors of World War II bombardment.

From sly comedy at the expense of his fellow policemen to personal soul searching that helps him enter the minds of those he must investigate, Montalbano is a detective whose earthiness and imagination coalesce into a unique, unfailing appeal.

Author Biography: Andrea Camilleri is the author of many books, including his Montalbano series, which has been adapted for Italian television and translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Dutch, and Swedish.

Stephen Sartarelli lives in upstate New York.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670031382
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication date: 11/11/2002
Series: Inspector Montalbano Series , #2
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 7.86(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano mystery series, bestsellers in Italy and Germany, has been adapted for Italian television and translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Dutch, and Swedish. He lives in Rome.
Stephen Sartarelli lives in upstate New York.

Read an Excerpt

1

To judge from the entrance the dawn was making, it promised to be a very iffy day-that is, blasts of angry sunlight one minute, fits of freezing rain the next, all of it seasoned with sudden gusts of wind-one of those days when someone who is sensitive to abrupt shifts in weather and suffers them in his blood and brain is likely to change opinion and direction continuously, like those sheets of tin, cut in the shape of banners and roosters, that spin every which way on rooftops with each new puff of wind.

Inspector Salvo Montalbano had always belonged to this unhappy category of humanity. It was something passed on to him by his mother, a sickly woman who used to shut herself up in her bedroom, in the dark, whenever she had a headache, and when this happened one could make no noise about the house and had to tread lightly. His father, on the other hand, on stormy seas and smooth, always maintained an even keel, always the same unchanging state of mind, rain or shine. This time, too, the inspector did not fail to live up to his inborn nature. No sooner had he stopped his car at the ten-kilometer marker along the Vigàta-Fela highway, as he had been told to do, than he felt like putting it back in gear and returning to town, bagging the whole operation. He managed to control himself, brought the car closer to the edge of the road, opened the glove compartment, and reached for the pistol he normally did not carry on his person. His hand, however, remained poised in midair: immobile, spellbound, he stared at the weapon. Good God! It's real! he thought.

The previous evening, a few hours before Gegè Gullotta called to set up the whole mess-Gegè being a small-time dealer of soft drugs and the manager of an open-air bordello known as "the Pasture"-the inspector had been reading a detective novel by a writer from Barcelona who greatly intrigued him and had the same surname as he, though hispanicized: Montalbán. One sentence in particular had struck him: "The pistol slept, looking like a cold lizard." He withdrew his hand with a slight feeling of disgust and closed the glove compartment, leaving the lizard to its slumber. After all, if the whole business that was about to unfold turned out to be a trap, an ambush, he could carry all the pistols he wanted, and still they would fill him with holes with their Kalishnikovs however and whenever they so desired, thank you and good night. He could only hope that Gegè, remembering the years they'd spent together on the same bench in elementary school and the friendship they'd carried over into adulthood, had not decided, out of self-interest, to sell him like pork at the market, feeding him any old bullshit just to lead him to the slaughter. No, not just any old bullshit: this business, if for real, could be really big, make a lot of noise.

He sighed deeply and began to make his way slowly, step by step, up a narrow, rocky path between broad expanses of vineyard. The vines bore table grapes, with round, firm seeds, the kind called, who knows why, "Italian grapes," the only kind that would take in this soil. As for trying to grow vines for making wine, in this soil you were better off sparing yourself the labor and expense.

The two-story cottage, one room on top of another, was at the summit of the hill, half-hidden by four large Saracen olive trees that nearly surrounded it. It was just as Gegè had described it. Faded, shuttered windows and door, a huge caper bush in front, with some smaller shrubs of touch-me-not-the small, wild cucumber that squirts seeds into the air if you touch it with the tip of a stick-a collapsed wicker chair turned upside down, an old zinc bucket eaten up by rust and now useless. Grass had overgrown everything else. It all conspired to give the impression that the place had been uninhabited for years, but this appearance was deceptive, and experience had made Montalbano too savvy to be fooled. In fact he was convinced that somebody was eyeing him from inside the cottage, trying to guess his intentions from the moves he would make. He stopped three steps in front of the house, took off his jacket, and hung it from a branch of the olive tree so they could see he wasn't armed. Then he called out without raising his voice much, like a friend come to visit a friend.

"Hey! Anybody home?"

No answer, not a sound. Montalbano pulled a lighter and a pack of cigarettes from his trouser pocket, put one in his mouth, and lit it, turning round halfway to shelter himself from the wind. That way whoever was inside the house could examine him from behind, having already examined him from the front. He took two puffs, then went to the door and knocked with his fist, hard enough to hurt his knuckles on the crusts of paint on the wood.

"Is there anyone here?" he asked again.

He was ready for anything, except the calm, ironic voice that surprised him from behind. "Sure there is. Over here."

*

It had all started with a phone call.

"Hello? Hello? Montalbano! Salvuzzo! It's me, Gegè."

"I know it's you. Calm down. How are you, my little honey-eyed orange blossom?" "I'm fine."

"Working the mouth hard these days? Been perfecting your blow-job techniques?"

"Come on, Salvù, don't start with your usual faggot stuff. You know damn well that

I don't work myself. I only make other mouths work for me."

"But aren't you the instructor? Aren't you the one who teaches your multicolored assortment of whores how to hold their lips and how hard to suck?"

"Salvù, even if what you're saying was true, they'd be the ones teaching me. They come to me at age ten already well-trained, and at fifteen they're top-of-the-line professionals. I've got a little Albanian fourteen-year-old-"

"You trying to sell me your merchandise now?"

"Listen, I got no time to fuck around. I have something I'm supposed to give you, a package."

"At this hour? Can't you get it to me tomorrow morning?"

"I won't be in town tomorrow."

"Do you know what's in the package?"

"Of course. Mostaccioli with mulled wine, the way you like 'em. My sister Mariannina made them just for you."

"How's Mariannina doing with her eyes?"

"Much better. They work miracles in Barcelona."

"They also write good books in Barcelona."

"What's that?"

"Never mind. Just talking to myself. Where do you want to meet?"

"The usual place, in an hour."

*

The usual place was the little beach of Puntasecca, a short tongue of sand beneath a white marl hill, almost inaccessible by land, or rather, accessible only to Montalbano and Gegè, who back in grade school had discovered a trail that was difficult enough on foot and downright foolhardy to attempt by car. Puntasecca was only a few kilometers from Montalbano's little house by the sea just outside of Vigàta, and that was why he took his time. But the moment he opened the door to go to his rendezvous, the telephone rang.

"Hi, darling. It's me, right on time. How did things go today?"

"Business as usual. And you?"

"Ditto. Listen, Salvo, I've been thinking long and hard about what-"

"Livia, sorry to interrupt, but I haven't got much time. Actually I don't have any time at all. You caught me just as I was going out the door."

"All right then, good night."

Livia hung up and Montalbano was left standing with the receiver in his hand. Then he remembered that the night before, he had told her to call him at midnight on the dot, because they would certainly have as much time as they wanted to talk at that hour. He couldn't decide whether to call Livia back right then or when he returned, after his meeting with Gegè. With a pang of remorse, he put the receiver down and went out.

*

When he arrived a few minutes late, Gegè was already waiting for him, pacing back and forth the length of his car. They exchanged an embrace and kissed; it had been a while since they'd seen each other.

"Let's go sit in my car," said the inspector, "it's a little chilly tonight."

"They put me up to this," Gegè broke in as soon as he sat down.

"Who did?"

"Some people I can't say no to. You know, Salvù, like every businessman, I gotta pay my dues so I can work in peace and keep the Pasture, or they'd put me out to pasture in a hurry. Every month the good Lord sends our way, somebody comes by to collect."

"For whom? Can you tell me?"

"For Tano the Greek."

Montalbano shuddered, but didn't let his friend notice. Gaetano "the Greek" Bennici had never so much as seen Greece, not even through a telescope, and knew as much about things Hellenic as a cast-iron pipe, but he came by his nickname owing to a certain vice thought in the popular imagination to be greatly appreciated in the vicinity of the Acropolis. He had three certain murders under his belt, and in his circles held a position one step below the top bosses. But he was not known to operate in or around Vigàta; it was the Cuffaro and Sinagra families who competed for that territory. Tano belonged to another parish.

"So what's Tano the Greek's business in these parts?"

"What kind of stupid question is that? What kind of fucking cop are you? Don't you know that for Tano the Greek there's no such thing as 'these parts' and 'those parts' when it comes to women? He was given control and a piece of every whore on the island."

"I didn't know. Go on."

"Around eight o'clock this evening the usual guy came by to collect; today was the appointed day for paying dues. He took the money, but then, instead of leaving, he opens his car door and tells me to get in."

"So what'd you do?"

"I got scared and broke out in a cold sweat. What could I do? I got in, and we drove off. To make a long story short, he took the road for Fela, and stopped after barely half an hour's drive . . ."

"Did you ask him where you were going?"

"Of course."

"And what did he say?"

"Nothing, as if I hadn't spoken. After half an hour, he makes me get out in some deserted spot without a soul around, and gestures to me to follow some dirt road. There wasn't even a dog around. At a certain point, and I have no idea where he popped out of, Tano the Greek suddenly appears in front of me. I nearly had a stroke, my knees turned to butter. Don't get me wrong, I'm no coward, but the guy's killed five people."

"Five?"

"Why, how many do you think he's killed?"

"Three."

"No way, it's five, I guarantee it."

"Okay, go on."

"I got to thinking. Since I always pay on time, I figured Tano wanted to raise the price. Business is good, I got no complaints, and they know it. But I was wrong, it wasn't about money."

"What did he want?"

"Without even saying hello, he asked me if I knew you."

Montalbano thought he hadn't heard right.

"If you knew who?"

"You, Salvù, you."

"And what did you tell him?"

"Well, I was shitting my pants, so I said, yeah, I knew you, but just casually, by sight-you know, hello, how ya doin'. And he looked at me, you gotta believe me, with a pair of eyes that looked like a statue's eyes, motionless, dead, then he leaned his head back and gave this little laugh and asked me if I wanted to know how many hairs I had on my ass 'cause he could tell me within two. What he meant was that he knew everything about me from the cradle to the grave, and I hope that won't be too soon. And so I just looked at the ground and didn't open my mouth. That's when he told me he wanted to see you."

"When and where?"

"Tonight, at dawn. I'll tell you where in a second."

"Do you know what he wants from me?"

"I don't know and I don't want to know. He said to rest assured you could trust him like a brother."

Like a brother. Those words, instead of reassuring Montalbano, sent a shiver down his spine. It was well-known that foremost among Tano's three-or five-murder victims was his older brother Nicolino, whom he first strangled and then, in accordance with some mysterious semiological rule, meticulously flayed. The inspector started thinking dark thoughts, which became even darker, if that was possible, at the words that Gegè, putting his hand on his shoulder, then whispered in his ear.

"Be careful, Salvù, the guy's an evil beast."

—from The Terra-Cotta Dog: An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli, Copyright © November 2002, Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION TO THE TERRA-COTTA DOG
From the very first pages of The Terra-Cotta Dog, the second Inspector Montalbano mystery from the pen of Andrea Camilleri, the detective’s world seems to have been turned upside down. First comes a secret face-to-face meeting with a dreaded Mafioso who wants nothing more than to have himself arrested. Then there is the matter of the unknown thieves who clean out Carmelo Ingrassia’s supermarket, only to leave all the stolen merchandise in a tractor trailer behind a nearby filling station. Just as life is starting to make sense again, an eighty-year-old Fascist who prides himself on his slow driving dies behind the wheel in a high-speed crash, only hours before a scheduled meeting with the inspector. Strange as the inspector’s own times may seem, however, the most intriguing and poignant mystery is yet to unfold, and it comes not from the present, but from the past. While retrieving a cache of smuggled weapons, the inspector happens upon a pair of desicated corpses in a long-forgotten cave, entwined in a lovers’ embrace beneath the unblinking eyes of a terra-cotta dog.

As other events lead him toward mortal danger, Montalbano finds himself obsessively drawn to unearth the story of the two dead lovers. Not only must he learn what happened to them, but he must also confront the reasons why he finds their secret so absorbing. Is his interest, as the police commissioner suggests, merely a form of “mental masturbation”? Does he see some fleeting image of his own identity in the mysterious remains? Or is it that, in a world of corruption, violence, and deceit, he hopes to find some tattered remnant of purity and decency in the voiceless past? In this masterly novel, in which all explanations seem possible yet so much seems inexorably fated, Inspector Montalbano is less concerned with determining whodunit than with seeking rest for departed spirits and finding solace for his own.

 


ABOUT ANDREA CAMILLERI

Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano mystery series, bestsellers in Italy and Germany, has been adapted for Italian television and translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Dutch, and Swedish. He lives in Rome.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THE TERRA-COTTA DOG
  • Inspector Montalbano’s passion for food is a touchstone of his character. What, in your view, do the frequent descriptions of food contribute to this and, if you have read them, other Inspector Montalbano mysteries? Is it significant that Montalbano is so often shown eating, but so seldom preparing his own food?
     
  • Montalbano often uses questionable methods to achieve his goals, as when he uses blackmail photographs to intimidate Ingrid’s father-in-law. Do Montalbano’s ends always justify the means, or do you sometimes find his conduct unacceptable?
     
  • Alcide Maraventano suggests to Montalbano that life involves a vast system of diverse codes that people are always devising and deciphering. One such code is represented by the unlikely objects found near the mummified corpses of Lisetta and Mario. What kinds of messages can visual codes communicate that written words cannot? In what ways is The Terra-Cotta Dog a coded text?
     
  • In The Terra-Cotta Dog, Montalbano continues his vexed relationship with the press. Early in the novel, he barely makes it through his appearance at a press conference. Later in the book, however, he makes adroit use of the news media to prompt a key figure in the mystery to come forward. What has Montalbano learned about the manipulation of the media?
     
  • Typically, detective fiction starts with a crime and moves linearly toward the apprehension of the perpetrator. Andrea Camilleri’s mysteries do not consistently follow this pattern. Rather, Camilleri uses the subgenre of the “police procedural” to engage thoughtfully in character development and to raise issues of moral ambiguity. How does Camilleri manage to resist some of the usual expectations of detective fiction while telling an engaging story?
     
  • In probing the mysteries of the Crasticeddru cave, Montalbano fears that he has desecrated both life and death. To feel that one has desecrated something, one must have a sense of the sacred. What, in the eyes of Inspector Montalbano, is sacred?
     
  • In The Terra-Cotta Dog, Montalbano is almost as frustrated by his law enforcement colleagues as he is bedeviled by the forces of the Sicilian underworld. How do the personality quirks and periodic incompetencies of the inspector’s fellow officers contribute to the atmosphere of Camilleri’s work?
     
  • Although Montalbano has rewarding friendships with women he respects intellectually, he routinely exasperates the women in his life who approach him with romantic intentions. How can it be that he is so comfortable with women on one level, but so ill at ease with them on another?
     
  • In the violent, corrupt milieu that is Vigàta, opportunities for redemption are scarce. If the possibility of redemption exists in The Terra-Cotta Dog, what are its sources? Despite its violence, is The Terra-Cotta Dog an essentially optimistic novel?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano Series #2) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
    harstan More than 1 year ago
    Small time drug dealer and brothel owner Gege Gulotta arranges a meeting between his old schoolmate Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano and Mafiosi big shot Gaetano "Tano The Greek" Bennici. Tano asks Salvo to fake a raid and arrest him because he needs to go to the hospital for an illness without losing face among his peers. Though he has some doubts about becoming Faustus, Salvo agrees. The simple performance of acting out the arrest of Tano almost collapses as Salvos¿ troops trip over one another. However, Tano's enemies manage to kill him anyway, but not before Salvo follows clues to a cave where a cache of loot and illegal arms are found right next to another cave where the remains of two lovers killed several decades ago lie next to a terra-cotta dog. Salvo begins his investigation in his droll style, which means search the literature as much or more so than interrogating those linked to the case. The second Inspector Montalbano case is a strong police procedural due to the lead character, who is sort of similar to Colombo though a lot more wittier. The investigation will entertain readers, but mostly because Salvo is a great character. How can you not like someone whose preference is quiet time alone to finish a Barcelona detective story rather than deal with mobsters or search caves for clues. Fans of refreshing lively police investigations will want to obtain this novel as well Andrea Camilleri¿s previous Salvo book, THE SHAPE OF WATER. Harriet Klausner
    cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I had overdosed a bit on cozy/comfort reads, so the sarcastically witty The Terra-Cotta Dog was just what I needed to add some excitement to my reading. While following a lead that might result in the capture of the head of a criminal organization, Inspector Montalbano ends up discovering a 50-year-old murder from World War II. Montalbano is much more interested in the historical puzzle than in the more recent crimes on his plate, and this frustrates both his superiors and his subordinates.This book revealed a new aspect of Montalbano's character. He's a reader, and the books he's currently reading, other books he's read, bookstores, and libraries all work their way into the story. In that respect, he reminds me of P.D. James's Adam Dalgliesh and Louise Penny's Armand Gamache.Although this series is a little coarser than the types of mysteries I usually read, it's one I'm sure I'll return to periodically when I'm in the mood for something a little outside of my comfort zone.
    richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I am truly gruntled and kempt after reading a Montalbano novel. Sleek, in fact; one could go so far as to say consolate.The mystery, that is the modern-day mystery of arms-dealing and law-breaking, gets short shrift in this delightful book. It gets passed to Montalbano's second-in-command, Augello, at Montalbano's discretion, after Augello pitches a hissy fit and acts like a neglected wife because Montalbano runs a team within a team to do his real work.Things Go Badly. In fact, a character I loved very much pays the ultimate price for Augello's jealous fit. But Montalbano, whose head everything ultimately falls on, has already turned his attention to Livia, his quite extraordinary lover from Genoa, and a mystery from WWII.One guess which of those two gets neglected.The point of these books is how much a mystery gets hold of one, how deeply set the hook is when it's properly baited for the mysterian. (Other than the name of a one-hit wonder band, I've never actually used that word before, and "I do not think that word means what you think it means." {Princess Bride reference}) Sure, yeah, people are smuggling submachine guns and stuff, mmm-hmmm get back to me if something needs my attention but some a-hole killed two kids in the Act of Luuuv 50+ years ago, then put them in a cave where evidence assures us they were NOT shot, and with some very odd burial goods...a bowl of money, a jug of water, and a terra-cotta statue of a dog...and then sealed them up carefully and invisibly. WTF? as Montalbano most certainly wouldn't have thought, who does that? What kind of story makes that not only okay, but so urgent as to force someone to do it?Exactly what I was wondering. Montalbano is my kinda guy. There are people to *do* the modern-day, not-very-challenging stuff, and even when they get stuff wrong (as they did, to his almost-fatal detriment when a shoot-out costs him the life of a friend and a month in the hospital) things will turn out, they always do...just learn to live with the consequences...but only he, Montalbano, cares to or can ferret out the seemingly unimportant but emotionally charged secrets of the past.I was walloped upside my little punkin haid by the ending of this book. I could NOT believe an American publishing house would do this! Of course, they only did it ten years after it became a bestseller in *the rest of the world*, but let's let that slide. They did it, thank you Viking, and they made a lovely object of the book, and they have published all of the series in proper order *smoochsmooch* on their corporate ham-producing-areas to boot!I won't encourage anyone to read these books because, if you need encouragement, you're not the Right Stuff for them. (*snicker* THAT oughtta cause a stampede!)
    TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The Terracotta Dog was a bit of an improvement over the first book in the series. We start to find out a bit more about Montalbano. Though I still wouldn't say there was a lot of depth there, we start to see a bit of roundness in his character beyond just "hardass cop." However, the story line is a big improvement...much smoother and more coherent. It passed a couple of hours pleasantly. Had the series ended there, it probably would never occur to me to recommend it to anyone but I enjoyed myself.
    sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Inspector Montalbano returns for a second session of crime solving in this charming book by Andrea Camilleri. I "read" this book via audio and found it much easier going than the first volume which I read in print. The foreign names and unfamiliar references tripped me up when I saw them more than hearing an excellent reader say them for me. Or perhaps, it was just becoming more comfortable with this author and his style and wonderful characters. Either way, I enjoyed this book much more than the first, "The Shape of Water".In this story, Mantalbano solves the mystery of a stolen truck discovered loaded with groceries by discovering a cache of stolen weapons and stumbling onto the remains of a 50-year old murder that no one even knew about. It is this old murder mystery which captures his imagination and compels him to search for both the identies of the 2 bodies and their killer. Discovering the identity of the life-sized terra cotta dog which guarded the remains was the easy part.Salvo Montalbano reminds me (in some bizarre twist of the mind, I'm sure) of MC Beaton's Hamish Macbeth. Both are humble, avoiding the spotlight, and promotion, whenever possible. Both have an understanding and acceptance of human nature and the ability to see through attempts to confuse and misdirect them. I find Montalbano to be more interesting and complex than Macbeth, and so far, Camilleri's books seem less formulaic than Beaton's - although maybe I just haven't read enough of them yet.This book was delightful, and I am looking forward to the next in the series.
    michaelm42071 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I spent a couple of weeks traveling in Sicily recently, and so I thought reading a Sicilian mystery there would be appropriate. Andrea Camilleri wrote The Terra-Cotta Dog in 1996, and it was translated by Stephen Sartarelli in 2002. Camilleri¿s main character is Salvo Montalbano, a Sicilian police inspector in a town called Vigàta. Vigàta is a wholly fictional town, but after the phenomenal success of Camilleri¿s mysteries, his home town in Sicily, Port Empedocles near Agrigento, added Vigàta to its official name. Montalbano is a very literate police inspector, and throughout the book there are references to his reading. He likes the Spanish mystery writer Vazquez Montalbán, whose name is the Spanish version of his own and whose mysteries, like Camilleri¿s, also have many references to food and its preparation. But Montalbano also reads Faulkner and quotes Shakespeare as well as other dramatists, perhaps because Camilleri taught for many years at a school of drama. Montalbano, though he is companionable enough in other respects, likes to eat alone. His housekeeper leaves him dishes in the icebox or in the oven: poached baby octopus, the casserole called pasta `ncasciata, anchovies baked in lemon juice, spaghetti with sardines, and other Sicilian treats.Montalbano and his associates are always worried about moles in their organization¿mafia spies¿and in fact there is a kind of cold war between the police and the mafiosi. The factual basis of this struggle becomes apparent before one has even deplaned at the airport outside Palermo, which has been renamed Falcone-Borsellino Airport after the two judges murdered in 1992 for their anti-mafia activities. Mostly the violence happens within the mafia, and there is a chilling indifference born of use with which the police regard the killings of one mafioso by another. The plot is complex and begins with a well-known mafioso giving himself up to Montalbano. He wants the police inspector to stage the surrender as a surprise arrest. The man¿s associates are not fooled and they kill him, but before he dies, the mafioso gives Montalbano information about a large gun-smuggling operation. Montalbano finds the cache of weapons, but nearby discovers a young couple, murdered fifty years earlier, just before the Americans entered Italy in 1943. The fifty-year-old crime begins to consume Montalbano¿s thoughts; he becomes obsessed with it in the way Friedrich Dürrenmatt¿s inspector is obsessed with the murder of a little girl in The Pledge, a book that Montalbano thinks of in connection with his own obsession. Unlike Dürrenmatt¿s character though, Montalbano solves this one. I think you might like it, but you might have to go to Sicily to get the full effect.
    tulikangaroo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The Terra-Cotta Dog had the lightness and wit that was missing in the first book in the series, The Shape of Water. Inspector Montalbano is a tough nut to crack, but if you can cook properly he will look at you with the eyes of a puppy brought in from the rain. So charming.
    cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Another quirky adventure for Inspector Montalbano. He's invited to meet with the infamous and deadly Tano the Greek, a man whose name strikes terror in the hearts of many and who the Anti-Mafia Commission have been dying to get their hands on. His meeting with the deadly crime lord puts in motion a series of activities with surprising and hilarious consequences. In the middle of his clandestine plans, Inspector Montalbano finds himself dealing with a supermarket robbery that the supermarket owner takes pains to insist was not a robbery but only a prank. But what prank ends with men being killed after they speak with the Inspector? Is there a bigger act being played out where the risks are higher and men are willing to murder to keep the scheme from being discovered?And why are there 2 bodies, naked and curled around each other, with a terra-cotta dog guarding over them, a jug and a bowl of old coins next to them, placed in a old cave, hidden behind another cave where our good Inspector discovers weapons?Seemingly unrelated, it takes a few swims in the ocean, lots of food and our Inspector getting shot and proclaimed a hero, before he is able to piece it all together. All the while fighting desperately not to be promoted. You cannot help but enjoy this Sicilian romp.
    ffortsa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A fun romp from start to finish, although bad things do happen, of course. Montalbano is shown to have some personality issues, but manages to unravel a current case as well as an ancient one.
    Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    2nd in the Inspector Montalbano series.An arranged ¿capture¿ of a local Mafioso which leads to a weapons cache in a cave, the bizarre nonrobbery of a store in Vigáta, the death of a stubborn old Fascist, Mafia-style executions, and the subsequent discovery of the bodies¿in a sealed-up extension of the weapons cache cave¿of two young lovers, murdered 50 years ago, laid out in an obviously ritualistic manner cause Inspector Montalbano no end of frustration as he tries to tie seemingly disparate threads together in the Mafia case and piece together what really happened 50 years ago to two unfortunate lovers.That¿s the context of the second, excellent installment in the series. Montalbano is unique in the genre¿a temperamental Sicilian who drives his subordinates crazy with his mood shifts that depend on the weather. He¿s intelligent, compassionate, jealous, intuitive, self-serving¿and to top it all off, a gourmand of Sicilian cuisine. Hard to top.By his own account, Camilleri got the idea for the story from working with two young Egyptian student stage directors on an Arabic play, The people of the Cave. Camilleri has taught at the national Academy of Dramatic arts in Italy for well over 20 years; not only does this show up in the idea for this story, but it affects the way her writes as well. Once you realize this aspect of his professional career, you begin to appreciate the way he sets his scenes in his books. They are all quite precisely laid out with an eye as to how they¿ll play. True to the playwright¿s ideal, Camilleri sprinkles many of his scenes with humor, both through dialogue and through his characters¿ actions.What I particularly like is Camilleri¿s characterizations. Yes, he has a stable of permanent characters, both in the police force in Vigáta and in his private life, but the once-on characters are memorable as well. I think he does a brilliant job with all of them. His handling of Montalbano¿s relationship with his long-time lover, Livia, is nothing short of hilarious¿and entirely believable.The books are all relatively short, read quite fast, and are thoroughly enjoyable on all levels. Highly recommended.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Like all the Inspector Montalbano series books, this gives a brief escape into life in Sicily. Montalbano is always fascinating, though you wish he could be kinder to himself. Good twists and turns.
    MairL More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this book but didn't love it. It's the 3 one I've read of the series and I can't figure out why Montalbano just doesn't draw me in the way Harlan Coban's Myron or even Lindsay Davis' Falco does. He is a loner and maybe that quality comes threw to me as the reader and holds me at arms length. But certainly not a waste of time and I will try another since I love police mysteries and anything set in Italy.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A complex and wonderful plot, i read it once for the story; again for the writing, Check out the notes at the end forr help if you are not familiar with Italian, Montalbano is a charmer - his translator is brilliant,::
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    CAMILLERI does it again, Montalbano is thoughtful, physical and cunning in this 2nd book of the series
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    darwindog96 More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I couldn't get interested in this book. Maybe I'll go back to it if I find I have nothing else to read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this novel. I was able to follow the story, and I liked the characters. There was some parts that were actually pretty funny. The two things that took away from the novel were the language and the fact that some parts were choppy. Maybe something was lost in the translation.