As usual with these books, the focus in this story isn't so much on the crime or the crime solving, but instead on Inspector Salvo Montalban...morelike a 3.5
As usual with these books, the focus in this story isn't so much on the crime or the crime solving, but instead on Inspector Salvo Montalbano and the people surrounding him. This one is a little more on the personal side, with less reference to the social, economic and political issues that Camilleri usually brings to his work.
Our beloved inspector is now just two years short of sixty, and as in the last few books, he continues to muse about aging and growing older throughout the novel. He's still with long-time girlfriend Livia, and as the story opens, she is at Marinella with him for a few days. As he's worrying about someone named Carlo she mentioned while talking in her sleep, and getting more upset by the moment, he is called to the scene of an odd burglary. The couple that was robbed had been at their seaside home, where they'd awakened at six a.m. only to discover that they'd been "knocked out with some sort of gas," while the burglars "had the run of the place." It was their anniversary, and they were entertaining each other at the time, so neither person heard any sort of break in. Among a long list of valuables taken from the seaside house, the thieves stole their car and then proceeded to rob their regular residence. The only people who knew that the couple were going to be away were fifteen of their friends. As things turn out, there had been another burglary, "an exact duplicate," just three days earlier - and it isn't too long before the same thing happens again. When Montalbano is called out on yet another, he meets the titular and beautiful Angelica, the victim and also the "spitting image" of a woman he used to lust over as a teen in Dore's illustrations of Ludovico Ariosto's 1516 work Orlando Furiosio, a "poem about war and love and the romantic ideal of chivalry." After seeing her for the first time, he's immediately swept off his feet -- and definitely attracted. But even while he's mentally and physically lusting after his Angelica, as well as playing the role of her rescuer, there is still a number of crimes to solve -- including a murder -- and as an added distraction, the mastermind of the crimes is taunting the police. And of course, there's Livia.
While it's pretty funny to see Montalbano as a loopy, lovesick puppy completely smitten by this reincarnation of his teenage fantasies, and while Camilleri continues his long-standing tradition of inserting colorful characters into the mix, let me offer a word of warning here as far as the crime solving goes. I made the huge mistake of going to Sartarelli's notes in the back re the poem Orlando Furioso (a natural inclination), and twigged the entire plot all at once. Not the why of it, mind you, but trust me - if you read carefully, it's all there metaphorically speaking. I figured out much more than I should have at an early stage, and ended up being disappointed, an adjective I don't generally use when it comes to this series of books. And then there's this: I'm wondering if the author is getting a little tired -- this book just didn't seem to have the same oomph as his earlier Montalbano adventures that have been so lively up to this point. Still, it's a fun read, and in that vein I have to say that I probably haven't had so many good laughs with any other crime fiction series as I have with this one. Like I've said before, you don't read Camilleri's novels for the crime -- it's all about the characters. (less)
I'm still playing catch up here -- I actually finished this book about a week ago.
As usual, you can certainly feel free to choose between the longer,...moreI'm still playing catch up here -- I actually finished this book about a week ago.
As usual, you can certainly feel free to choose between the longer, more detailed review at my online reading journal or the shorter version here.
To my intense delight, Erlendur is back -- albeit as a young patrolman on the night shift -- in a prequel to the entire series. On his regular shift one night, young patrolman Erlendur receives a report that takes him to the scene of the drowning of a homeless man who went by the name Hannibal. Since it didn't seem to investigators that there had been any foul play, CID assumed that Hannibal's death was an accident, and the case goes cold. After all, the man was known to be a tramp, CID "had other fish to fry," and basically "no one seemed interested." Erlendur, however, had known Hannibal prior to his death, having crossed paths with him now and then, and just shortly before Hannibal's death, had listened to Hannibal when he'd claimed that someone had set fire to the cellar where he was living. Like everyone else, Erlendur didn't believe him. Now, a year later, while Hannibal is just a name on a file tucked away somewhere in police archives Erlendur can't forget him. Flying under the radar of his superiors, he decides he has to find out what really happened to this lost soul that night. But Hannibal's case is just one of two cold cases Erlendur can't forget. The case of a missing wife from the proverbial other side of the tracks in one of Iceland's better neighborhoods haunts him as well.
For people who have given this book less than a good rating because they found the crimes uninteresting or even boring, well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, and it's certainly true that people approach books differently -- but if you're judging this book on the basis of the crimes and crime-solving, in my opinion, you may have missed the point.
The very best element of Reykjavik Nights (imho) is not found in the crimes, in the idea that true evil doesn't discriminate between the best and worst neighborhoods in any city, in the social issues, or even in Erlendur's clandestine investigations. It lies with Erlendur Sveinsson himself. Even though he's very young and hasn't yet started on the career path as a detective where he ends up with the dream team of colleagues Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg, the Erlendur whom readers know from the regular series novels is all anchored right here -- the loner, the traditionalist, the seeker of lost souls. Since I know how things are going to turn out for him later, I found myself, for example, actually upset when he started dating future ex-wife Halldora, because well, as everyone knows, that's just not going to turn out well. It hit me while reading this book just how very much I've ended up investing in Erlendur over several years -- that may sound kind of stupid since he's a fictional character, but I suppose it means that Indridason has created a character whose life I actually cared about. To be very blunt, I can't honestly say that about most the characters in most crime fiction novels I read.
I think this book works best for people who've already read the entire series. It's much more simplistic than the other novels, and I'm inclined to believe that the author did that on purpose to keep the focus on Erlendur himself, rather than on the crimes. I appreciated the obviously slower pace for that very reason.(less)
If you've read Rebecca and you think that's all there is to Daphne Du Maurier, think again. This collection goes well beyond Manderley...morea 3.8 rounded up
If you've read Rebecca and you think that's all there is to Daphne Du Maurier, think again. This collection goes well beyond Manderley, taking the reader into lives that seem very normal until you begin to notice that something is just not quite right -- and by then, it's too late to stop reading.
If you want the longer version, feel free to click on through to my online reading journal ; otherwise, stick with the shorter version here.
You'll find that the author covers a range of themes: isolation, love, loss, grief, dislocation, revenge, obsession, fate -- all very human attributes that here take on a different sort of significance in the lives of her characters. The beauty in these tales is that her people are just going about their every day lives -- at least at first. For example, In "Don't Look Now," a husband and wife are in Venice on holiday to help them to deal with their grief over their dead child. In "Split Second," a widow with a young daughter away at school steps out to take a walk and returns home. "The Blue Lenses" is expressed from the point of view of a woman who is recovering from eye surgery. All of these things are very normal, very mundane, and described very well by the author. But soon it begins to dawn on you that something is just off -- that things are moving ever so slightly away from ordinary, heading into the realm of extraordinary. By that time, you're so caught up in the lives of these people that you have to see them through to the end. The joke is on the reader, though -- in some cases the endings do not necessarily resolve things, but instead, point toward another possible chapter in the characters' futures. While the author doesn't do this in every story, when she does, it's highly effective and leaves you very unsettled and in my case, filled with a sense of unease thinking about what's going to happen to these people next. As one character notes, "Nothing's been the same since. Nor ever will be," and that's the feeling I walked away with at the end of several of these stories.
All in all, a fine collection of stories, definitely recommended. NYRB classics has really done readers a great service by bringing these stories together -- my advice: if you're interested in trying out Du Maurier's short stories, this edition would be the perfect starting place.(less)