Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Shape of Water

(Commissario Montalbano #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  15,263 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews

The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri's wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series, featuring Inspector Montalbano.

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees o

Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1994)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Shape of Water, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Francesca Lovecchio You can read any Montalbano's book without following the order or jumping from one to another. The only thing you'll miss it's the evolution of Camill…moreYou can read any Montalbano's book without following the order or jumping from one to another. The only thing you'll miss it's the evolution of Camilleri's style through the years and the changing in Montalbano's private life, like you said. Enjoy!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,263 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, #1)
Feb 17, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Sicily in the grip of corrupt politicians, multi-service military/police and the ever present mafia is home to Inspector Salvo Montalbano

Who is in charge here?
Two politicians had decided to send a number of detachments to Sicily for the purpose of ‘controlling the territory’, to lighten the load of the carabinieri, local police, intelligence services, special operations teams, coastguard, the highway police, railway police and port police, the anti-Mafia, anti-terrorism, anti-drug, anti-theft an
Michael Finocchiaro
I typically avoid crime novels but having spent several vacations during the last decade in south-eastern Sicily and having seen Montalbano's name ubiquitously every where I went, I figured I needed to see whether the enthusiasm was merited. Well, yes and then some. Inspector Montalbano is a very complex personality with a brilliant intellect and a collection of friends and acquaintances that are all quite realistic. And that is without the drool-inducing descriptions of Sicilian cuisine, the go ...more
Lynne King
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
27 May 2020

This will be a re-read for me as it is the choice of the book club that I belong to. I'm intrigued to see if I still give the same high rating that I gave eight years ago.

* * * * * * * * * *

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
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, comparing to the previous one I read (the voice of the violin) this one has less humor, but it still has the smooth writing, the twists and some thrill. Inspector Montalbano is still an interesting character, and the plot was engaging till the end. And as usual, the Italian food references make me drool.

The story revolves about the Politician Silvio Luparello who's found dead at a trash site filled with drug dealers and prostitutes. The post-mortem reveals that there was no foul play and t
John Martin
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well worth the ride

This novel ticks all the boxes for me in this genre.
It's a fairly complex story, not made easier with the array of Italian character names.
But if you enjoy unravelling mysteries, it is well worth the journey.
It's also a book with a measure of humour, quirkiness and nice human touches.
It's set against a backdrop of corruption and sleaze though, so beware if you are easily offended.
Elyse  Walters
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What is the shape of water?"
"Water doesn't have any shape! I said laughing. It takes the shape you give it."

This is my first Andrea Camilleri novel .....and the first in a series. The mystery itself had me curious before I even started reading: "Silvio Lupanello, a big-shot in Vigata,
is found dead in his car with his pants around his knees".
The car happens to be parked in the front of town do you spend any prostitutes and drug dealers.
Inspector Salvo Montalbano, is Vigata's most respected d
Richard Derus
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Review can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Blaine DeSantis
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
I am rereading this series and this book is a nice start but it has more holes than I had originally thought. Being Italian I give this a 4**** but it is short on character development, a proper resolution and a series of events that is pretty unbelievable. Simply, a politician is found dead at a teenage parking area with his clothes undone after what appears a heart attack after or during some sexual pleasure. A lot that goes on in a little over 20o pages and, again, a lot is rather unbelievabl ...more
Alice Lippart
Loved the setting, the characters and the way it's written! Did figure out the mystery though, which I'm usually not able to do, but overall, excellent cosy mystery. Can't wait to read the next one.
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
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars
A bit of a disappointment, it was a story as so many others I've read. This was no. 1 in a series. I will try another one at some stage. Usually later books get better.
Rachel Hall
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This delightful 1994 novel which introduced readers to Inspector Salvo Montalbano and the fictional town of Vigàta indoctrinates readers into the high comedy and characters of life in Sicily. This is crime fiction with the emphasis on both the location and some very distinctive characters. The actual investigation under the microscope sets the tone but the driver is very much the maverick Inspector Salvo Montalbano, a frequently grouchy streetwise policeman.

The discovery of a high-ranking polit
Sep 04, 2012 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
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Shape of Water is the 1st book in the Inspector Montalbano Mystery series that takes place in Sicily. A place where goats once roamed in now a place for drug dealings and sexual encounters. It is called the Pasture.

Two cleaners who pick up garbage in the Pasture discover a car with a dead male body. He looks like he died a natural death while having sex. To complicate the matter, he is well known in the political field in the area. Inspector Montalbano does not want to close the case so qui
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Patrick Sherriff
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-and-such
I enjoyed this romp through corrupt Sicily led by the engaging protagonist, a police inspector quite happy to discard evidence if it serves the ultimate aim of seeing that justice is done. There's a likeable cast of the good, the bad and the beautiful acting in ugly ways and it all seems almost believable. And while the crime is central to the story, it's the mood, the attitude and the sense of a good man in a corrupt world that keeps you engaged. Enjoyable and I liked the use of notes at the en ...more
Stephen Clynes
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not read any books written by the Italian author Andrea Camilleri, so I thought I would start with his first novel in the Commissario Montalbano series. Andrea Camilleri was born on the 6th September 1925 but will be unable to write any more books as he sadly died on the 17th July 2019.
I enjoyed reading The Shape of Water with all it’s colourful descriptions of life in Sicily. I have never been to Italy and found this mystery accessible for British readers as the local cultures were gentl
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
A pleasant diversion, bathed in Sicily. Review to come.

A very quick read. Light entertainment. A cross between Colombo and The Sopranos. I suspect I would enjoy the televised version, as this just screams out, “the small silver screen.” Good dialogue, fast paced. My main quibble with this one is the translation. My cultural antennae pick up a certain dissonance that trips up the pace at times.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love the character of Inspector Montalbano. Now hooked on reading all of Andrea Camilleri’s work.
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted another 50 pages of development. This went too quickly!
Lewis Weinstein
Jan 31, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Carte Blanche
  • La costola di Adamo
  • Conosci l'estate?
  • Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti, #1)
  • Black Run
  • Il re dei giochi
  • Per legge superiore
  • Death and Judgment (Commissario Brunetti, #4)
  • The Late-Night News (Costas Haritos #1)
  • Fuori da un evidente destino
  • Come diventare bella, ricca e stronza: Istruzioni per l'uso degli uomini
  • La briscola in cinque
  • Il gioco delle tre carte
  • Παλιά, πολύ παλιά (Κώστας Χαρίτος, #5)
  • A House in Sicily
  • 7-7-2007
  • The Shooting at Chateau Rock (Bruno, Chief of Police #13)
  • Lezioni di fotografia
See similar books…
Andrea Camilleri (born september 6, 1925 in Porto Empedocle) was 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.


Other books in the series

Commissario Montalbano (1 - 10 of 29 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 (Commissario Montalbano #10)
  • The Wings of the Sphinx (Inspector Montalbano, #11)

News & Interviews

In most historical romances, love and marriage go together like...well, a horse and carriage. But what if the girl part of the girl-meets-boy...
21 likes · 11 comments
“As they ate, they spoke of eating, as always happens in Italy.” 4 likes
“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.”
More quotes…