Camilleri: The mystery within
I've haven't read the entire series, of which ten novels have been translated into English, and the ones I have read, I've read out of series order. But I'll make a tentative guess that Camilleri began to emphasize the personal, tender touch with Excursion to Tindari, fifth in the series.
Montalbano, the novels' third-person point-of-view character, is as much a mystery, a puzzle, and a surprise to himself as the murders he is called upon to solve. "He realized he was awake," the novel begins, "as his mind was functioning logically and not following the absurd labyrinths of dreams." The first subject of Montalbano's investigation is Montalbano.
Perhaps the most mischievous personal touch is Camilleri's choice of the mystery novel that Montalbano tries to read but is continually distracted from ever finishing. In The Smell of the Night, that book was by Georges Simenon. Here the novel is by the author for whom Camilleri named Montalbano: Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. This is a puckish yet heartfelt an act of tribute and self-reference as I can think of in crime fiction.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009