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“[Camilleri’s mysteries] offer quirky characters, crisp dialogue, bright storytelling—and Salvo Montalbano... a delightful creation, an honest man on Sicily's mean streets.” —USA Today
The day gets off to a bad start for Montalbano: while trying to break up a fight on Marinella beach, he hits the wrong man and is stopped by the Carabinieri. When he finally gets to the office, the inspector learns about a strange abduction: a woman was abducted, drugged, and then released unharmed only hours later. Within a few days, the same thing happens again. Both women are thirty years old and work in a bank.
Montalbano also has to deal with an arson case. A shop has burned down, and its owner, Marcello Di Carlo, seems to have vanished into thin air. At first this seems like a trivial case, but a third abduction—yet again of a girl who works in a bank—and the discovery of a body bring up new questions.
Two women are abducted, held overnight, and released without harm or ransom demands, stumping Sicily's Insp. Salvo Montalbano and his colleagues, in bestseller Camilleri's welcome 23rd novel featuring the world-weary policeman (after 2018's The Pyramid of Mud). They discover that the first two victims and then a third are all low-level bank employees, but otherwise make little progress. Meanwhile, they must look into an arson case and the disappearance of the torched shop's owner. The stakes rise as the cases intertwine and two bodies turn up. Montalbano punctuates his deductions with wry observations and classical allusions; he follows his frequent lunches at Enzo's trattoria by seaside walks where he gets his best thinking done. The aging detective's insights into the darker side of human nature allow him to cut through the red herrings as the action builds to a crisp, decisive ending. The Sicilian dialect of the police station's switchboard operator, as rendered in Sartarelli's adept translation, provides comic relief. Camilleri fans are in for a treat.