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August Heatby Andrea Camilleri
Synopses & Reviews
When a colleague extends his summer vacation, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is forced to stay in Vigàta and endure the August heat. Montalbano's long-suffering girlfriend, Livia, joins him with a friend-husband and young son in tow-to keep her company during these dog days of summer. But when the boy suddenly disappears into a narrow shaft hidden under the family's beach rental, Montalbano, in pursuit of the child, uncovers something terribly sinister. As the inspector spends the summer trying to solve this perplexing case, Livia refuses to answer his calls-and Montalbano is left to take a plunge that will affect the rest of his life. Fans of the Sicilian inspector as well as readers new to this increasingly popular series will enjoy following the melancholy but unflinchingly moral Montalbano as he undertakes one of the most shocking investigations of his career.
"Camilleri's 10th mystery to feature Sicilian Insp. Salvo Montalbano (after 2008's Paper Moon) cleverly balances a compelling story line with engaging characters. Urged by his girlfriend, Livia, to find a summer rental for a friend of hers in Vigta, Montalbano ends up selecting a house with a tainted past. The man who built the house died in a fall soon after its construction, and his 20-year-old stepson, Ralf Gudrun, vanished. After the young son of Livia's friend disappears, Montalbano finds the missing boy, essentially unharmed, but in the process stumbles upon a corpse, later identified as that of an attractive 16-year-old girl who disappeared six years earlier. Suspects include a real estate developer with unhealthy sexual appetites as well as the missing Gudrun. While the solution is less complicated than, say, those Peter Lovesey provides for his similar series sleuth, Peter Diamond, the humor and humanity of Montalbano make him an equally winning lead character." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"They say the past is a foreign country," comments a character in "Murder in the Latin Quarter," this latest Aimee Leduc mystery set in Paris. Aimee finds herself exploring the suddenly alien continent of her own history after the abrupt appearance — and then disappearance — of a woman claiming to be her sister, Mireille Leduc, the daughter of a Haitian woman who'd known her father during his university... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) days. Verifying the woman's story may lead Aimee to hidden truths about her family: "The truth. An elusive thing at best. Her father had never revealed Mireille's existence; she had a mother whose name her father had refused to mention after she'd left, as if she had never existed. Her life was entangled by the cobwebs of the unspoken past." But she's quickly drawn into another mystery when she discovers the body of a Haitian scientist with whom Mireille had been involved. Because Mireille's mother had been killed in Haiti by Papa Doc Duvalier's Tonton Macoutes, and because the motivations for the scientist's murder may also stretch back into that history, Aimee must look into the country's long saga of poverty, malnutrition and violence. As usual, Cara Black trains her tour guide's eye on architectural and historical detail as Aimee's search for Mireille leads through a Latin Quarter thick with "the whispers of ghosts" and deep into the catacombs. Realism is occasionally strained, as Aimee poses as a student reporter, pretends to be looking for a cellist for a birthday party and stumbles regularly into the right place at the wrong time (she's the Nancy Drew of the Fifth Arrondissement). But the unfolding drama remains appealing, and surprises lie in wait for Aimee right up to a cliffhanger ending urging us on to the next installment. "August Heat," the latest of Camilleri's novels translated into English, may seem a trifle in some ways. Certainly the book has its layers of darkness: the discovery of a corpse in a buried trunk, a 16-year-old girl who vanished six years earlier; rumors that one suspect has become a sex tourist, traveling abroad to sate his interest in underage girls; and hints of a conspiracy that may involve the local government, the local mobsters or both. But Camilleri often presents it all with curmudgeonly whimsy. While solving the disappearance of a young boy, Inspector Salvo Montalbano uncovers a hidden section of the house the child's family had been renting and finds a dead body within: "a cross between a mummy and a giant parcel ready for shipping." Reconstructing the past holds the key to the crime — literally so, when Montalbano places the dead girl's twin sister at the murder scene to unmask the killer. But the joys of "August Heat" arise less from the central plot than from its margins: Montalbano's never-flagging fondness for food, his ruminations on aging and his commentaries on Italian society. (In addition to capturing Camilleri's dialectal quirks, translator Stephen Sartarelli also provides notes that explain the book's many historical and political references.) Often, the investigation serves as a kind of scaffolding from which to hang skit-length romps: Montalbano posing as a "Plenipotentiary Minister" to trick the head of forensics or endlessly dressing and undressing in his office to fend off thick summer sweat, a running joke. Even that twin sister starts out as a gag, with Montalbano inventing the woman on a whim to tease an over-amorous prosecutor and then being surprised himself when she emerges as an actual person (and a romantic interest, despite the 33-year age difference between her and the detective). "Was this any way to carry on an investigation?" Montalbano muses to himself at one point. "It was starting to look like a comedy routine." That assessment might well apply to much of "August Heat," even as darker forces close in. But the occasional absurdity doesn't detract from the novel's myriad pleasures. Reviewed by Art Taylor, who regularly reviews mysteries and thrillers for The Washington Post., Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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When a colleague extends his summer vacation, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is forced to stay in Vigta and endure the August heat. Montalbano's long-suffering girlfriend, Livia, joins him with a friend, husband and young son in tow, to keep her company during these dog days of summer. But when the boy suddenly disappears into a narrow shaft hidden under the family's beach rental, Montalbano, in pursuit of the child, uncovers something terribly sinister. As the inspector spends the summer trying to solve this perplexing case, Livia refuses to answer his calls and Montalbano is left to take a plunge that will affect the rest of his life. Fans of the Sicilian inspector as well as readers new to this increasingly popular series will enjoy following the melancholy but unflinchingly moral Montalbano as he undertakes one of the most shocking investigations of his career.
When a friend's child suddenly disappears into a narrow shaft hidden under a beach rental, Inspector Salvo Montalbano, in pursuit of the boy, uncovers something terribly sinister, in the latest work in the popular series.
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