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Shape of Water (Commissario Montalbano #1)

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  7,391 Ratings  ·  726 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.


Published August 1st 2006 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1994)
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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
Richard Derus
Feb 22, 2012 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

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
Sep 07, 2012 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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
May 17, 2013 Algernon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Lynne King
Dec 26, 2012 Lynne King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites

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
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
Jul 03, 2016 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Πρώτη μου γνωριμία με τον Επιθεωρητή Μονταλμπάνο και γενικά πρώτη μου επαφή με το έργο του Αντρέα Καμιλέρι, δύσκολα θα μπορούσε να γίνει καλύτερη αρχή. Το βιβλίο το άρχισα σήμερα το πρωί και το τελείωσα πριν από λίγο, αν και είχα να κάνω διάφορα πράγματα στο μεταξύ. Πολύ ευκολοδιάβαστο και ψυχαγωγικό, με ικανοποιητική πλοκή, ευχάριστη ατμόσφαιρα, ωραία σκηνικά και ενδιαφέροντες χαρακτήρες. Στα θετικά βάζω και το γεγονός ότι μου θύμισε λιγάκι από το ύφος του Λεονάρντο Σάσα, ο οποίος είναι ένας πρ ...more
Sep 16, 2016 Robertt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book of Inspector Montalbano series. Like Simenon's, it's always a pleasure to read such series.

4* The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, #1)
4* The Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano, #2)
3* Excursion to Tindari (Inspector Montalbano, #5)
3* Rounding the Mark (Inspector Montalbano, #7)
4* The Patience of the Spider (Inspector Montalbano, #8)
3* Acqua in bocca (Inspector Montalbano, #16.5)
4* Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano, #16)
TR The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalban
Pubblicato nel 1994, questo è il primo romanzo della serie incentrata sulle avventure del siciliano Commissario Salvo Montalbano, dal quale è stato tratto anche un omonimo film tv, prodotto dalla Rai nel 2000, con Luca Zingaretti nella parte del Commissario.

Io sono siciliano e le riprese del Commissario Montalbano sono state fatte (e sono ancora girate, visto che ad aprile gireranno nuove puntate) nel mio paese e comunque abito in questa bella provincia siciliana. So bene che Camilleri, invece,
Jul 16, 2011 Marilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 29, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
José Luis
Jun 16, 2016 José Luis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Bien, muy bien. Un libro que no me ha defraudado en absoluto, todo lo contrario. Me ha gustado Salvo Montalbano, es un tipo que desde el principio cae bien, con un carácter mediterráneo y latino en el que los españoles podemos vernos reflejados muy bien. Andrea Camilleri consigue que lo veamos, que nos lo imaginemos, un tipo peculiar, con mucho vivido, posiblemente ya de vuelta de todo, amante de la buena comida y de los placeres de la vida. Con mala lech
aPriL does feral sometimes
Commissario Salvo Montalbano is a laid-back cynic, which is a good thing. He must do his job of detecting crimes and providing justice where he can while placating the powerful chiefs of the many small fiefdoms of competitive interests in Sicily. It is helpful he is a man who sees below the surface of what occurs around him, and he is well-acquainted personally with the various villains with whom he must work whether they be of high status or low. He is perfect as the leading character in this c ...more
... leggere Montalbano in ceco, assurdo, lo so :)
Mar 20, 2016 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
I've read a few books by this author, all within the same series. This happens to be the first one in that series. I really like the MC, but sometimes I feel like I'm missing something because of either the Italian culture that I don't quite understand or maybe it is the translation. But I enjoy him and his thought processes. I also like the ease that all the characters seem to carry. Again, maybe that is cultural. His books are enjoyable, and whenever I need a book based in Italy or written by ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Nov 21, 2013 Ethen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: default
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
foarte bun prim volum. un inspector inteligent, cinic, cu simțul ironiei și al umorului. o italie naturală, plină de vicii și defecte, însă o italie - mai bine spus sudul ei - vie, fermecătoare. personaje cu care empatizezi repede. diferit de sumbrul, violența macabră și dureroasă a romanelor nordice. aici violența e prezentă tot timpul, însă filtrată parcă prin lumina călduroasă a mediteranei.

nota zece pentru traducere. un deliciu de la un capăt la altul.
M.J. Johnson
Sep 01, 2016 M.J. Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Camilleri's writing, his quirky characters and the Sicilian setting. This is the third Inspector Montalbano I've read, despite the fact that this is actually the first in the series. I'll try and read them in order from now on, but not difficult to get into wherever you start. If you enjoy crime fiction that's fun ( with a dark side, of course) and intelligent to read, these are definitely worth exploring. Almost the perfect holiday or relaxing weekend read. A delight.
Jan 14, 2016 Damiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rc-monografia
La forma dell'acqua è il romanzo di Camilleri dove esordisce il celeberrimo commissario Montalbano. La prima lettura del libro risale a quando avevo 16 anni, e con Camilleri fu amore a prima lettura! Nonostante un forte uso del siciliano (e di parole di cui a prima lettura non si capisce bene il significato) il romanzo scorre che un piacere, una lettura mai noiosa e coinvolgente, dove però i personaggi (escluso il protagonista) rimangono ai margini rispetto all'indagine. Se proprio si vuole trov ...more
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.
Veronica Bejarano
Jul 20, 2014 Veronica Bejarano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detectives
Realmente Andrea Camilleri es uno de los mejores haciendo vivir las peripecias más extrañas al Comissario Montalbano. Es increíble como se entrelazan las situaciones, uno o dos casos resueltos o más de ellos o uno sólo que puede verse de diversas formas. El desenlace es algo que no se veía venir y Camilleri lo hace posible porque tiene una mente brillante. Continuaré leyendo sus obras porque me encantan!
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.
A pleasant diversion, bathed in Sicily. Review to come.
Feb 29, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, italy
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
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
Jemima Pett
Jul 16, 2012 Jemima Pett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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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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.

More about Andrea Camilleri...

Other Books in the Series

Commissario Montalbano (1 - 10 of 25 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)

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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.”
“I had a little friend, a peasant boy, who was younger than me. I was about ten. One day I saw that my friend had put a bowl, a cup, a teapot and a square milk carton on the edge of a well, had filled them all with water, and was looking at them attentively. ‘“What are you doing?” I asked him. And he answered me with a question in turn. ‘“What shape is water?” ‘“Water doesn’t have any shape!” I said, laughing. “It takes the shape you give it.”’ At” 0 likes
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