I have a new upstairs neighbour and heaven knows what she must have thought the other night as I went to bed and started reading the latest Inspector Montalbano book by Camilleri, The Potter's Field. The first chapter had me weeping with laughter and in the end I just put the book down and lay in bed in hysterics. The combination of finding a body on a muddy hill, torrential rain, slippy underfoot and Catarella hurtling down the hill was just too much for my equilibrium. Put in words it does not sound funny, you have to read it and you have to know and love these books and, if you do, you will totally understand.
The body found in the Potter's Field bears all the hallmarks of a Mafia style killing, but nobody can identify the victim, who has been hacked into 30 pieces. While working on this mysterious case, Salvo has to deal with the irrational behaviour of his colleague Mimi, who is exhibiting signs of slipping back into his philandering ways despite having a wife and a young son. It seems he has fallen prey to Dolores Alfano, a stunningly beautiful and sexy woman, who enchants and enslaves all the men she meets - she makes Montalbano feel a tad frazzled himself when she comes in to report her husband missing. No prizes for guessing what has happened to him....
A complicated and intricate puzzle solved by the wonderful Montelbano with wit and humour along the way and, naturally, the consumption of marvellously described food. I simply adore these books - I was not sure about them when I first started reading them but now I wish Andrea Camilleri a long and healthy life so that he can continue to keep me enchanted with Salvo and his colleagues.
From Sicily to Amish Country and Gone Missing by Linda Castillo is the fourth in the series featuring Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police and ex-member of the Amish community. Teenagers are going missing and the only thing they have in common, apart from their religion, is their keenness to leave the Plain Life behind. Kate is called in to advise on another case with the same MO a little further afield and meets up once again with Agent John Tomasetti with whom she has been having a relationship. Good to see its progress alongside the main story line.
Not sure how much longer this author can keep featuring murderous Amish brethren, seem to be a lot of them about, but I really enjoy these books. Narrative fast moving, extremely well written and lots of tension. Always an explosive tense finale, this is no different, and a final cliff hanging ending which made me blink. Great stuff.
Then from far afield back to the English countryside in Sidney Chamber and the Shadow of Death, the Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie. This is one of those simply lovely gorgeous delightful books that you love from page one. It features Canon Sidney Chambers, recently appointed as vicar of Grantchester, near Cambridge. He is fairly young, in his early thirties and he finds himself caught up in detection and mystery by accident. He has a friend in the local police inspector who seems remarkably sanguine about Sidney's burgeoning second career as a male equivalent to Miss Marple, and between them they sort things out.
This series is the first of six books, published by those great people at Bloomsbury, and is projected to cover the years from the Queen's Coronation to Prince Charles' wedding and I am looking forward immensely to reading them all.
There are several mysteries contained in this first volume; they are not short stories, more like long short stoires if you know what I mean, and we meet characters along the way who are obviously going to make regular appearnaces. It seems James Runcie is the son of a former Archibishop of Canterbury so his background knowledge cannot be faulted and I love his rather dead pan style. This is the opening paragraph of page one:
"Canon Sidney Chambers had never intended to become a detective. Indeed, it came about quite by chance, after a funeral, when a handsome woman of indeterminate age voiced her suspicions that the recent death of a Cambridge solicitor was not suicide, as had been widely reported, but murder"
Isn't that a great opening line?
Three great reads and, on checking through all my deliveries in the last week, I have a few more goodies lined up, so need to get reading. Mark you, Wimbledon is now on so I may have some distractions though I can always turn down the sound when the Shrieking Shack (AKA Sharapova) is on court and read instead....