There is nothing Inspector Salvo Montalbano dislikes more than people who want to talk to him while he’s enjoying a meal. Frankly, an unsolved case is more palatable. His housekeeper, Adelina, is in a permanent stand-off with his girlfriend Livia, but this has to be tolerated because Adeli is a dream of a cook. Livia, meanwhile, is not only long-suffering but also lives a long way away, which helps make for multiple telephone miscommunications and alternative female temptations.
The latest of the 19 Montalbano books in the Andrea Camilleri oeuvre is called Blade of Light. As ever, the story moves along with pace and vim as the author vividly evokes up the beauty as well as the danger of life on the edge of crime in Sicily. The stories are invariably spiced with murder and mirth, with much of the latter being supplied by – or at the expense of – three police colleagues of the Inspector: the likeable lothario Mimi, the loveably pedantic Fazio, and the plain bonkers Catarella. In this one, Montalbano’s angst at how to choose between maintaining his relationship with Livia or succumbing to the charms of the mysterious Marian is resolved only when his professional life comes crashing into his personal one.
Although the books might best be read in chronological order, it really doesn’t matter. Each story is essentially self-contained, something that can seldom be said for Montalbano’s appetite.