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The Shape of Water (Commissario Montalbano #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,299 ratings  ·  556 reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review

Bestselling Italian author Andrea Camilleri has built a massive international following for his sardonic Sicilian mysteries featuring a listless, dejected, nonconformist protagonist who somehow always accomplishes his duty in spite of himself. The Shape of Water is his first Inspector Salvo Montalbano adventure to be translated into English.

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Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Matthew
When a book is described as 'light,' there's usually a negative connotation to this adjective: by lightness what we mean is something along the lines of 'written without careful craft,' or sometimes, more simply, 'trivial.'

It's difficult to describe The Shape of Water (or really, any of Camilleri's novels) without invoking this word, but in a sense far different from its usual usage. The 'lightness' that pervades his books is more like that of an Olympic skater executing a triple axel: something
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Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Well now...
I decided to try Camilleri because I'd watched one of the Montalbano series on TV. You know how it is, you find the characters and scenery interesting, the story lines are good... you're just hooked and want to try the "real" thing just to see how it matches up.
The first thing I'm going to say is that they don't feel the same. The TV detective is super-cool in that dark Italian way, his team are efficient and work well together. Camilleri's Montalbano... well he's somehow slightly di
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Algernon
[7/10]
After reading some gloomy Swedish policiers, I decided to head for a warmer climate and check out what the buzz is about this late blooming (he wrote his first succesful novels in his late sixties) Italian, or should I say Sicilian, writer. Local colour is the first bait that he sets in my path, drawing me like a patient fisherman into his net. Vigata is a small city by the sea, in the Montelusa jurisdiction - both imaginary localities, but sufficiently authentic for the inhabitants of Cam
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Martina
I know, I know. My review of the first Montalbano novel that I've read ("L'odore della notte") was kinda harsh, and it's in stark contrast with what I'm going to say here. But by reading this book, I've understood a thing or two, and reconsidered my opinions.

First off - this is a Mediterranean crime novel. It's not an American type of crime novel, where serial killers are lurking on parking lots, or a Scandinavian novel with dreary landscapes, thick plots and social commentary. It's Mediterrane
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Marilyn
This is the first in a series of Italian crime novels set in Sicily. I love the independence and flavor of the characters. Montalbano is a gourmand inspector in Sicily who has a home on the beach and swims in the middle of the night. The love of his life, Livia, lives elsewhere and they have a tumultuous relationship but are true to one another and very simpatico. He has a housekeeper who leaves delicious meals in the refrigerator for him and who refuses to come when Livia is in residence. Monta ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Three and Half Stars.

It is an interesting and engaging but not a gripping mystery.
The pages and the events keep you hooked. But it does not grip you.
It is an entertainer for sure. A perfect read at the beach or in the travel.

Besides, one gets to know of the inner politics of the Sicilian state of the Italy. The attitudes of the Sicilians towards the rest of Italy, especially about North Italy and the way Sicilians see themselves in their context, the inner workings of the Sicilian society (rela
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Chris
Subtle. One of the only murder mysteries that I have read that is much more interested in the “why” than the “who” and “how.”

Intelligent humor. Maybe a bit smart for me. When the narrator or characters describe someone or something as being like a painting by an painter that I have never heard of, or reference plays by authors unknown to me, I start to wonder if there was a pre-requisite to this class and I missed it.

Definitely not of the English or American detective school and refreshing bec
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Nancy Oakes
Just past the midway point of this novel, the mother of the victim, local "big-shot" Silvio Lupanello, implores Inspector Salvo Montalbano to uncover what really happened to her son. Lupanello was found dead, pants down around his ankles, in a car in a local area of Vigàta (Sicily) used by prostitutes and drug dealers. Although the coroner has judged that Silvio died of natural causes, his mother knows that something more sinister lies at the bottom of Silvio's death, even if he truly died of a ...more
Regan
I've heard so many great things about the Camilleri novels, but this just didn't grab me. I may try again with the next in the series as some people think that the later books are better.

Unfortunately, this was a rather poor translation; on several occasions I was jolted out of the book by a word or phrase that just didn't work or was wrong. For example, a Sicilian word was translated as dawdling, and the translator explained that in Sicilian it meant to do nothing. So the character "dawdles" do
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Jemima Pett
If you saw the Inspector Montalbano series on BBC4 in the winter you will enjoy this book, which I think was the first episode we saw on tv. If you didn't you may get a little confused by the number of people in the story and their roles, particularly as (to my English eyes) some of the police names were very similar to some of the crooks!
This book is translated from the Sicilian-Italian and I think the translator has done a good job or adding the Sicilian flavour to it. The writing is descripti
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Ethen
By far this has become my favorite series. Written by Italian author Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli and read by Grover Gardner. This review is for the audiobook edition.

Gardner brings this book and the character to life. If I didn't know better I'd think he was Inspector Montalbano in the way he breathes life into each word.

Set in Sicily, this fast paced and funny mystery draws you in from the first line. The character crafting is very good and within a few lines I feel as
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Lynne King

I watch Inspector Montalbano on the BBC which I thoroughly enjoy and so decided that I had to purchase the first book in the series.

Sicily to me is a magical island (forget about the Mafia for a moment) and the book definitely set the scene for the television series. However, it was the quality of the literature that sustained my interest.

All the ingredients are here for an excellent book. Inspector Salvo Montalbano, who’s streetwise, loves his food, a man who appears to have met the woman of h
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Chris
Truth is like water poured into a vase or a glass, a cup or a bucket: just as water takes its shape from its container, truth can be just as malleable, depending on one’s point of view. Camilleri’s The Shape of Water presents just such a conundrum: a corpse is discovered and though it soon becomes clear the deceased died from natural causes all is not as it seems, with Commisario Montalbano suspecting foul play when circumstantial evidence suggests things don’t add up.

The first in the Inspector
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Jann Barber
It took me some pages to get into the flow of this book. I always wish I was fluent in every language, as I'm sure Camilleri's words were beautiful in their original form. Even in translation, however, this was a marvelous read.

Our mystery book club chose Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series, and I was able to get the first book in the series. I was surprised that I started and finished it on the same day. It caught me up when I wasn't looking!

Silvio Lupanello, a powerful man in the village o
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Lewis Weinstein
I was confused throughout this book. When there are lots of characters, I think the author should make sure to identify them each time they appear; just a word or two will do. On the other hand, maybe it was my fault. It seemed that I read the book in little snatches over a week or so. Maybe if I had read it straight through in 1-2 days, I would have followed it better.

The story itself was bizarre but interesting, with many humorous asides.
Elidanora
Movida por la curiosidad de ver que muchos miembros beceros españoles andan leyendo este autor, me compre este ejemplar hace unos pocos días.
Es un policial de muy fácil lectura que en mi caso no lo deje hasta que no lo hube terminado. El comisario Montalbo entiende la ley a su manera en un pueblo rodeado de corrupción y manejos póliticos no muy claros.
Me gusto mucho.
Skip
3.5 stars. Sicilian Inspector Montalbano is a cross between Columbo and Spenser -- a relentless, imaginative gourmand. A politician is found is a dispreputable neighborhood, apparently dead of a heart attack. Everyone wants to move on, but some niggling details bother the detective, who unravels mysteries behind the strange death. Nice pictorial of Sicily.
Ann
Salvo Montalbano, police inspector for the Sicilian town of Vigata, is called to investigate when the body of Silvio Lupanello, chief political figure in Vigata, is found in a car in the Pasture, an area known for its drug and prostitution activity. It looks as if he died of natural causes but the location and notariaty of the victim calls for deeper investigation. This was a good book. I liked the way the characters were written and the story moves along well but it does lag in places. I will r ...more
Bob
This was truly a treat to read. I'm very partial to mysteries with Italian settings and protagonists, and I'd rank Camilleri's The Shape of Water right up there with the best of Donna Leon and Michael Dibdin. Plus, it's written by an actual native-born Italian! This is a short novel which seemed even shorter because of its super-swift pacing and its grab-you-by-the-lapels plotting. All the reviews and back-cover blurbs I've read characterize Camilleri's tone in these mysteries as "sardonic". Too ...more
Sara
"Water doesn't have any shape!...It takes the shape you give it."

This is a recurring theme in Camilleri's mysteries in that the "facts" of the crime are always shaped by the point of view of the crime-solvers...or the crime-obscurers...or the criminals themselves who hide messages in the way the crime is committed or the way the body is displayed. So...crimes are like water...and Montalbano loves water, going for long swims whenever the facts of life in mafia-ridden Sicily threaten to overwhelm
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Karen
THE SHAPE OF WATER is the first in Camilleri's series of books featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Set in Vigata, a fictional seacoast town in southern Sicily, The Shape of Water finds Montalbano investigating the death of a local influential in the very insalubrious surrounds of "The Pasture".

The Pasture, once a goat grazing site is now the place to pick up a drug deal or a prostitute. Montalbano is already a bit suspicious about Luparello's death but when pressure starts being applied by a p
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Daniel Roy
The Shape of Water is the kind of thriller you read for the flavor of the setting, and not so much for its central mystery. The mystery in itself is a bit banal, to tell the truth: it involves some politician, found dead in a nasty part of town. That being said, it matters little to the enjoyment of the book.

This fast-paced mystery novel is the first one featuring Inspector Montalbano, and it's easy to see why he went on to become a fan favorite. Montalbano is a man's man: a dour, pragmatic Sici
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Gabriel Valjan
The Shape of Water is the first of author Andrea Camilleri’s Commissario Salvo Montalbano series, set in a fictional town of Vigàta. The series has proven so popular that it has boosted tourism in Sicily and there is even a tour of Porto Empedocle on which Andrea Camilleri based his novels on.

A couple of things that you need to know: you don’t need to read the series in order, but it helps if you read for character. As with any initial foray into a series, this first outing is not perfect, but i
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Gerald Sinstadt
There are several Italian sleuths of my fictional acquaintance: Guido Brunetti in Venice, Guido Guerrieri in Bari, Aurelio Zen in Rome, Inspector Bordelli in Florence among them, all enjoyed to varying degrees. Salvo Montalbano I knew only by reputation, so Book One, taking me to Sicily, seemed the logical place to join.

I am encouraged to pursue the relationship, though I hope future plots will not cause me so much re-reading to sort out the characters as troubled me here. Otherwise, I was engag
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Monica
This was a great first book in Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano series. It was quick and fast paced, a good introduction to a new main character who i like, the plot was believable, and the ending nicely wrapped up. Another Italian mystery series for me, this time taking place in Vigáta, a fictional town in Sicily...not that i needed another mystery series to start, never mind another one that is set in Italy. However, i'm hooked from book one and looking forward to the next one.

Jac
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Nancy
This book did for me what only the very best novels seem to achieve: it made me think. But not about the locale (Sicily); or the plot (a very Machiavellian murder), but about writing. Yes, about writing.

For me, the magic of books is that we each approach them in our own way and extract from them whatever works for us--or, whatever we're looking for. I read for character and milieu. Camilleri's introductory novel in the Inspector Montalbano series could easily be a case study in exquisite, subtle
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Tony Johnston
This is a very short but satisfying book about a murder in Sicily.

I read the translation of the original Italian work. The book is so short (big type, big white spaces in 250 pages or so) that I almost didn't have time to appreciate it.

On the one hand it reminded me of an Italian Philip Marlowe story. It combines a quick plot movement with rapid-fire sentences and almost no descriptions or character development. The plot, denouement and the pace are all strictly "b movie".

On the other hand, yo
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Marta Querol
Siento debilidad por la forma de narrar de Camilleri, por esos ambientes italianos, o más bien sicilianos, por sus diálogos, por las situaciones disparatadas, y esta novela no me ha defraudado en absoluto.
Es la primera, pero ya se percibe con claridad la personalidad del dotto Montalbano, su inteligencia deductiva y la integridad y humanidad de este peculiar policía.
Además de la intriga y el interés por la trama policial, Camilleri ha conseguido arrancarme un par de carcajadas (por cierto en el
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Jan C
I'd actually give this book a 3 1/2.

The second book that I read in the series but I think this is actually supposed to be the first one.

I think Montalbano is my 2nd favorite Italian copper so far - next to Leon's Brunetti, of course. Probably mainly because I've read more of Leon's books. And I only read one Dibdin so I'm not sure how much I like Zen. And I'm not far enough in The Dogs Of Rome to know how much I like Conor Fitzgerald's character.

I'm not sure if he didn't give us the information
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Andrea Camilleri (born september 6, 1925 in Porto Empedocle) is an Italian writer. He is considered one of the greatest Italian writers of both 20th and 21st centuries.

Originally from Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Camilleri began studies at the Faculty of Literature in 1944, without concluding them, meanwhile publishing poems and short stories. Around this time he joined the Italian Communist Party.

Fro
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More about Andrea Camilleri...

Other Books in the Series

Commissario Montalbano (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • The Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano, #2)
  • The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano, #3)
  • Voice of the Violin (Inspector Montalbano, #4)
  • Excursion to Tindari (Inspector Montalbano, #5)
  • The Smell of the Night (Inspector Montalbano, #6)
  • Rounding the Mark (Inspector Montalbano, #7)
  • The Patience of the Spider (Inspector Montalbano, #8)
  • The Paper Moon (Inspector Montalbano, #9)
  • August Heat (Inspector Montalbano, #10)
  • The Wings of the Sphinx (Inspector Montalbano, #11)
The Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano, #2) Voice of the Violin (Inspector Montalbano, #4) The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano, #3) Excursion to Tindari (Inspector Montalbano, #5) The Smell of the Night (Inspector Montalbano, #6)

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“In grammar school he’d had an old priest as his religion teacher. “Truth is light,” the priest had said one day.
Montalbano, never very studious, had been a mischievous pupil, always sitting in the last row.
“So that must mean that if everyone in the family tells the truth, they save on the electric bill.”
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