Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sicilian Crime stories

Two Sicilian based crime novels today. First up, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano:

Isolde Oberreiter, more commonly known as 'Auntie Poldi', is a German lady in her sixties who's decided to move to Sicily to be near her relatives in her retirement. She has a nephew who's trying to be a writer and he lives with her from time to time. He's the narrator of the tale and describes how eccentric his aunt is having lived a very colourful life indeed. She has a sort of odd-job man who works for her now and then, who disappears one day. Poldi is worried, but no one takes her seriously until she discovers his dead body on the beach. The police are on the case but Poldi decides to look into the murder herself as her father had been a detective in Germany. It's naturally a dangerous undertaking and the investigating officer, DCI Vito Montano, is not amused with her interference but is struggling with his attraction to Poldi. Unfortunately for him she also has more success with her investigations than he does...

To be honest I wasn't at all sure what to make of this. It was a fun murder mystery, I will say that, with a really nice setting on the island of Sicily. Nice sense of place and of the eccentricities of the inhabitants of that island. The problem for me, I think, was that I felt the author made Aunt Poldi just a bit too eccentric. I do actually like a bit of weirdness here and there, enjoy it in fact, but I almost felt the author had gone overboard just for the sake of it. I struggled to identify with Poldi and that's a shame as middle-aged female protagonists are very few and far between. I say 'middle-aged'... the author refers to her as 'elderly' and she's in her sixties... like me... I do not think of myself as 'elderly'! Surely these days elderly is late eighties or ninety. Anyhow, hit and miss with this book I think, but cheap to buy on Kindle and a fun read so I have no complaints whatsoever.

Next, Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri:

A young man, Nené Sanfilippo, is shot dead outside his block of flats in Vigata, Sicily. Inspector Montalbano and his team are assigned the case. Then another man turns up at the police station, very worried about his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Griffo, who have not answered their phone for several days. Montalbano naturally makes no connection between these two occurrences... *until* he finds that the murdered man and the missing couple lived in the same appartment block. It turns out that the Griffos were last seen on a coach which was taking its passengers on an excursion to the Sanctuary of the Madonna in Tindari. On the way back the coach stopped for a comfort break and no one remembers seeing them after that. Then a local Mafia chief asks to meet up with Montalbano. What on earth is going on?

Another enjoyable episode in the detecting life of Salvo Montalbano... number five as a matter of fact. I can't claim that this is one of my favourite series, because it's not. I like them, I don't love them, and I'm not sure why that is. I do enjoy the taste of Sicilian life the author brings to his stories. The island is very real... the people, their addiction to food, the history, the oppressive heat, the organised crime, the eccentricity of the police force. There's a good natured, earthy humour I like and Montalbano's love of good food is endearing. His love life not quite so much. I read these books very intermittently, so as there're are rather a lot it'll take me while to get through them. But that's ok, I have several series I read like that, dipping in and out when the mood takes me. It's all good.



DesLily said...

wow, you sure are going great on the mysteries!! I am still like molasses in winter. lol. I can't get past reading 10 pages without feeling like I am falling asleep! I am thinking it has to do with my heart valve that needs replacing. They said I would be lethargic.but I am muddling along anyway lol.. love you and your reviews!!!

Peggy Ann said...

Aunt Poldi sounds intriguing, Cath. I might check it out. I love the Montalbano TV series but haven't got around to a book yet. I do have one on the shelf and should really get to it soon. Nice reviews. I'm hitting 60 in 6 months. A little scary, but like you I don't think of it as elderly yet!

BookPlease said...

Excursion to Tindari is the only book by Andrea Camilleri that I've read. I liked Montalbano and the descriptions of food! Aunti Poldi is a new-to-me book that does sound different - I like your definition of 'elderly'!

Cath said...

Pat: I think mysteries, crime, murders are my main reading material these days. I don't know what happened to fantasy and horror. LOL Also, like you, reading more non-fiction these days. You take care. *Hugs*

Peggy: Hopefully Aunt Poldi is as cheap in the USA as it is here. I've yet to see the Montalbano TV series, must keep an eye out for that. Sixty? Just a sping chicken...

Margaret: Well, they're 22 of them so you've got a way to go! LOL I just saw on FF that Andrea Camilleri is 91. Now *that's* elderly.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Cath,

I haven't come across the 'Montalbano' series on television either, but apparently it has aired previously on BBC Four and there are four more episodes due to be shown this year. Like yourself, I shall be keeping a look out for that one!

In fact I have never read any of the Camilleri books either, although I have seen plenty on the shelves. I can't recall ever checking one out even and to be honest had no idea they formed part of a detective series. One day I may get around to dipping my toe in the Sicilian waters, but there are just so many books....

Like yourself and Peggy, I am due to hit 60 next year and have just begun to realise that young people do actually class this as officially 'old'. It's a scary thought when my head is still screaming middle age, and although I do think the gap is closing a little over time, I still find myself sometimes wondering what young people are actually talking about when they are in text speak mode!!

Thanks for sharing your little corner of Italy and 'Happy Reading' with whatever comes next :)