ANDREA CAMILLERI – The Dance of the Seagull. Originally published in Italian as La danza del gabbiano, 2009. Penguin, US, softcover, 2013.

ANDREA CAMILLERI The Dance of the Seagull

   This, the 15th and most recently recorded case of Inspector Salvo Montalbano (at least here in the US), begins with the agonized gyrations of a seagull the inspector sadly watches die before his eyes. Little does he know that a connection will soon be made between this event and his very next case, which has as yet not had time to develop.

   This being my first encounter with the inspector and his various adventures, I did not recognize at first the significance of the mysterious disappearance of Fazio, the latter one of his close-knit staff of subordinates. Montalbano is, as are many fictional police inspectors, Italian or otherwise, somewhat of a lone wolf in his approach to tackling crime, but one man cannot do it alone, and the men who work under him are much like family.

   The main thrust of the case, that of drug smuggling (or traffickers), is not particularly interesting, but even without a “Watson” to bounce his ideas off of, Montalbano displays a good sense of the world around him – which is to say that he’s a very good detective. Nor does a good sense of humor on the part of the author hurt in the least. I wouldn’t mind at all if I had the chance to catch up on any of Montalbano’s earlier cases, or his next one, whichever way it works out.