This was great, the first one I've read by this author. I've never even heard of this famous series of Montalbano detective stories. There's even a tv series apparently. I am so out of touch.
But these are the best kind of books, the ones that you discover blind. This was bought at a used book sale for $2, as a complete unknown for me. An Italian murder mystery, in translation -- it's gotta be different than the usual North American kind so let's take a flyer, it's only two bucks. When the gamble has paid off, it is extra sweet somehow.
Although the plot is standard fare, a few mild twists and turns, good police work, dogged persistence of the "hunch", etc., the best thing I liked about it was the atmosphere. It felt like a glimpse into everyday life of Italy (not the murder of course). The attitudes toward work, police, the Mafia, and how this microcosm deals with those influences, were all fascinating. The casual descriptions of the kinds of Italian food being eaten made me hungry. There were frequent odd occasions of stripping off the clothes publicly. It happened so often in such unusual situations that it no longer felt unusual, just a bit distracting. The writing has a light touch, and is wryly humourous.
I will look for more in this series, starting first at the local used bookstores.