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The Shape of Water
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The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri's wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series, featuring Inspector Montalbano. The goats of Vigata once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, 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 through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter. The Shape of Water is followed by the second in this phenomenal series, The Terracotta Dog. PRAISE FOR THE SERIES "A magnificent series of novels" Sunday Times "There's a deliciously playful quality to the mysteries Andrea Camilleri writes about a lusty Sicilian police detective named Salvo Montalbano." New York Times Book Review "Camilleri as crafty and charming a writer as his protagonist is an investigator." The Washington Post "The books are full of sharp, precise characterizations and with subplots that make Montalbano endearingly human ... Like the antipasti that Montalbano contentedly consumes, the stories are light and easily consumed, leaving one eager for the next course." New York Journal of Books "This series is distinguished by Camilleri's remarkable feel for tragicomedy, expertly mixing light and dark in the course of producing novels that are both comforting and disturbing." Booklist
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About the Author

Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy's most famous contemporary writers. The Montalbano mysteries have been bestsellers all over Europe. He lives in Rome. Stephen Sartarelli is a poet and translator. He lives in France.

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Urbane Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano, whose exploits have sold more than four million copies in Europe, makes his long overdue U.S. debut in this spare and spry English translation of the first novel in the series. When two garbage collectors find the body of local politician Silvio Luparello locked in his BMW with his pants down, in "the Pasture," the Vigta town dump frequented by whores and drug dealers, the coroner rules that Luparello died of natural causes, despite clear evidence to the contrary. Montalbano refuses to oblige his superiors who want a hasty close to the case, and it will take a corrupt lawyer's murder to break it open. The author's view of Sicily is the all-too-common one of a poor and backward place that many would like to see separated from the rest of Italy. Camilleri's strength lies in his gallery of eccentric characters: Signora Luparello, the victim's admirably cool widow; Geg, a pimp and old classmate of Montalbano's; Giosue Contino, an 82-year-old schoolteacher who shoots at people because he thinks his 80-year-old wife is cheating on him; and Anna Ferrara, Montalbano's attractive deputy, "who every now and then, for whatever reason, would try to seduce him." Even the two garbage men have Ph.D.s. The maverick Montalbano doesn't hesitate to destroy clues or extract money from a crook to help a child, but his wrapping up the case by telling rather than showing, while acceptable to European audiences, may disappoint action-oriented American fans. (May 20) Forecast: Bestsellers in Italy and Germany, the mysteries in this series have been adapted for Italian TV. Don't count on their airing here anytime soon outside the Italian-language cable channel. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humour, and the sense of despair that fills the air of Sicily. To read him is to be taken to that glorious, tortured island. * Donna Leon *

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