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Rounding the Mark Paperback – July 25, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Camilleri's gripping seventh Inspector Montalbano mystery (after 2005's The Smell of the Night) successfully integrates serious political themes with a hero reminiscent of Colin Dexter's beloved Inspector Morse. Frustrated by his department's repressive handling of security for the G8 summit in Genoa, Montalbano seriously considers resigning. His attempt to unwind with a casual swim along the Sicilian seashore fails when he discovers a corpse in the water. The inspector's pursuit of the cause of death intersects with another mystery—the inquiry into a hit-and-run that claimed the life of a young boy who may have been victimized by human traffickers. When Montalbano realizes that he may have inadvertently aided the boy's victimizers, his internal turmoil intensifies. Despite Camilleri's hard look at modern-day slavery and child abuse, he maintains Montalbano's gallows humor, making this far from a run-of-the-mill police procedural. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

We noted in our review of The Smell of the Night (2005) that Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano series was becoming considerably darker, with the Sicilian inspector fighting a losing battle against the melancholy that weighs down so many overburdened European cops, from Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander in Sweden to Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen in Italy. Pervasive corruption has much to do with Montalbano's growing sense of powerlessness, but, in his seventh adventure, the shenanigans of his superiors and the politicians behind them are coupled with the evil underside of the opening of Europe's borders: the buying and selling of immigrant children (to be used either as slave labor, toys for pedophiles, or the source of illegal organ transplants). Montalbano unwittingly abets one such trafficker in human flesh and spends the rest of the novel struggling to set matters right. But setting anything right in this absurdly wrong world is something of an exercise in futility, and Montalbano alternates between despair and steely resolve. Unlike other authors who dramatize both the ugly racism and unfathomable evil that too often accompany an immigrant's journey, Camilleri masterfully mixes tragedy and comedy by showing us Montalbano's laughably human foibles and excesses, from his continuing hunger for a good meal and his bumbling efforts to sustain a romantic relationship through his compassionate if often misguided attempts to deal with his subordinates. Ordinary life goes on, even in the face of extraordinary horror. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Printing edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014303748X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143037484
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Inspector Montalbano was having yet another treacherous night; drifting, jolting awake and then lying back down, things had been weighing on his mind of late, mainly anger and disappointment. Livia his long time girlfriend had tried to pacify and focus him again but the current government revelation had brought things to the surface, Montalbano was feeling betrayed by the people he trusted most. False evidence had been planted against a group of political protesters in order to justify their detention but this wasn't coming from violent beat cops, the fabrications were from commissioners and vice-commissioners, inspectors and captains, Montalbano blood had now reached boiling point his decision had been made, he was ready to resign.

Before turning in for work Montalbano needs to clear his head, he decides to take a long swim in the sea, it might be relaxing, lost in thought and all too late he had swam too far, beginning to struggle he flips on his back just to catch his breath. Shortly thereafter he accidentally bumps into another swimmer he apologises but was getting no reply he quickly discovers to his horror the body was actually a corpse. Later that week when the autopsy report comes back the death of the unidentified man was listed as an accidental drowning; Montalbano knew better, something about this floating body didn't feel right.

With the body case chewing at his insides just to top his worst week Montalbano gets a call to take control of another boatload of illegal immigrants landing on their Sicilian shores. Montalbano sets about getting some organization in place, he notices a little African boy making a break from his family and gives chase; he takes the boy tightly by his hand and lively returns the boy to his mother the boy looks terrified.
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I've read all eight of Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano novels currently available in English translation and preordered _Patience of the Spider_, so I guess I'm a fan. Salvo Montalbano is an enviable character--he may be bummed at getting old, but in the meantime he has gorgeous women crawling all over him and eats like a king--yet never gets fat! The carefully described meals are just one example of the many details that make readers feel at home in the wacky imaginary Sicilian city of Vigàta. This is definitely fiction with a strong sense of place, like that by Carl Hiaasen. In using his knowledge of the local ways (and thus passing them on to the reader), Montalbano is a little like the Joe Leaphorn of Hillerman's earlier novels (like _Dance Hall of the Dead_).

_Rounding the Mark_ is maybe a little less integrated than some of the novels--the novel begins with Montalbano's disgust at the corruption of his fellow cops to the point where he is about to resign, and it seems that corruption and the resignation will be a big deal, but they are pretty much forgotten as the plot gets underway. Other reviewers have complained that there's not enough fast-paced action in Camilleri's works, but this one heats up better than most by the end.

Camilleri is a master at characterizing people through their dialects. I wouldn't have thought that could come out in translation, but Sartarelli gets it across. And the endnotes are a godsend, especially in making clear just how much money is involved so as to clarify its motivating power. Then, too, there are lovely local customs like "goat-tying" explained. Sicily is a scary place!
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I've read them all....all the Montalbano mysteries by Andrea Camilleri that is, and Inspector Montalbano's penchant for justice, his appetite for homespun Sicilian cuisine, and his argument with the ever present absurdities and corruption of modern Italian/Sicilian life are exquisite. While his subject matter is often brutal I always feel that I'm in the company of a humanitarian champion. Camilleri makes me laugh out loud and I cheer him on with his wildly improbable plots because they take on the issues of the gravest importance. Child abduction and slavery, immigration, and bribery, are only a few of the issues that Camilleri tackles. If you're a mystery fan, Camilleri is not to be missed. I've read several of his books twice for the shear joy of the language. These mysteries are the best and the translations by Stephen Sartarelli are top notch. Go for it!
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Book 7 is a wonderful book, and yet at the time I read it the story is also very pertinent. There is as I write this a terrible crisis in Europe over immigrants and so it is very bittersweet to read this sad story about the little boy who is desperate to escape his awful fate. Salvo takes it upon himself to be an avenging angel once he figures out the little boy's back story. But at what cost? The inspector continues to take terrible risks when he goes out alone; his clever men show up in the nick of time but how long can we count on such luck? Meanwhile Montalbano worries about getting older. Are these related? The risk taking and the confrontation with mortality? You think?

Reading this sort of makes me miss the movies, which are (at least in my memory) lighter. Sunnier. Funnier. This is a sad story about a dreadful event.
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