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Andrew Throssell

Do you approach a book by prejudging its contents or step in to it and allow it to take you wherever it leads? I have not come across Camilleri before and at that a translation of his work from Italian.

Here is a story that weaves a series of threads that come and go throughout the journey. As you might expect in a Sicilian tale it has families (the Mafia), food, love (although at a distance that might be resolved or not), polizia, the judiciary and dodgy business deals. Throw in some potential kidnapping and broad Italian twang a story of page turning interest and wit.

You follow Montalbano through his daily life and share his frustration, smirk at his rhetoric and feel for his loneliness. This is a crime novel, and having read this one, I will certainly read some more of the Inspectors episodes. I have a feeling that it does not matter that much which order you read them in, no doubt someone will prove me wrong.

The delight is, within all the thread of working out who killed the man (no spoiler alert it happens very near the beginning) and dealing with continual interruptions, the delightful musing on the daily ritual of going for lunch at his favourite restaurant where the courses are described as a constant.

The main violence we encounter is that of the weather and the torrential rain that brings with it seas of mud, which then points us to the title. Hold on to it well as it is a long time before you encounter it in the shape of a pyramid. I would be intrigued if you could help me with the true significance of the mud pyramid. Answers on the back of Viking Cruise ticket please.

I read a wide variety of books and I have enjoyed loosing myself in this text, I would love to have a sneaky look at the literal translation. Stephen Sartarelli has made a wonderful job of bringing this text to life for English readers. I through my recommend opening this up while lounging on deck with the usual luxury of your favourite cruise and let the world pass you by whilst journeying to Sicily.

Julie Griffiths

This is a light holiday read which can easily be read in one sitting. It is well crafted yet written in simple prose. There are, however, references throughout the book, which cannot be understood without having read earlier books in the series, and it would be beneficial to read some of them to enjoy building up an understanding of all the main protagonists.

Set in Sicily the case begins with a dead body being found inside a pipe on a building site. An apparently straightforward case soon becomes more complex as Inspector Montalbano and his colleagues start to investigate.

Inspector Montalbano is a gruff but endearing man with a love of food, which his housekeeper prepares for him. His eyesight is failing and he is becoming increasingly deaf which he has no wish to acknowledge.

Yet, as expected Inspector Montalbano solves the case.

Overall, it is an enjoyable read. My only reservation about the book is the translation. There is wit and humour in the story, which comes across clearly but the translator uses dialects when translating speech and in my opinion Catarella, one of the police officers, sounds at times Jamaican and at times Irish, which I found disconcerting.

Sue Green

I was thrilled when the Viking Book Club invited me to review their recommendation and, on receipt of the book, was delighted to discover that it’s (a) crime fiction which is a genre I favour, and (b) set in Italy and clearly, as a seasoned ‘Viking’, I enjoy learning about different destinations.

That said, I did wonder how easy it would be to pick up a story which is 22nd in a series about the same detective, and how it would read given I reviewed an English translation from the original Italian. However, I need not have worried on either count. There were a few references to characters and events from previous mysteries (a quick internet search soon remedied any confusion) and the style, while not exactly to my taste, was easy to read if a little stilted, particularly when it came to dialogue which did have some strange ‘accent’ connotations at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the ‘whodunit’, and would say it fits the bill for a lightweight holiday read. Would I however rush to buy another in the series – probably not although there is a TV series so I may look out for that instead!

Marion Allen

It is raining continuously in Vigata, thunder echoes, lightning flashes and there are rivers of mud in the streets, with landslides threatened. In this Inspector Montalbano mystery the gloomy weather is exactly mirrored by the unpredictable danger and dark forces at work in the local community of Vigata.

Murders and mysterious disappearances must be solved by Inspector Montalbano and his team who receive little help or deliberate obfuscation from the local community as they try to unravel what has happened. The cast is almost exclusively male and a sense of danger and foreboding is tangible throughout, with dark Mafia figures pulling the strings in the background.

The book is not unremitting gloom, the spirits are lifted by some lighthearted moments in the relationship between the companions at the police station, and the relationship between Montalbano and Livia.

The plot is complex and closely plotted, and all the clues we have been given, but not realised the significance of, lead to a taut finale. A must for all the lovers of detective fiction.

Tracey Gulliver

This was not my usual style of book to read and at first I found the style of writing a little unusual, but the story line soon had me hooked and wanting to find where Montalbano,s thoughts where going. I found the whole book intriguing and griping and all the characters interesting. A very worthwhile read and one I would recommend.

Hilary Olney

I was looking forward to receiving my first book. I am an avid reader but my heart sank at the sight of a crime novel, especially the 23rd novel about Inspector Montalbano by an Italian writer unknown to me. I thought the translation was clumsy and the anglicised Italian slang very irritating.

I have never encountered so many apostrophes and inverted commas, and there was far too much dialogue .I was bored by the story, which was very confusing and I did not engage with any of the characters. A very old fashioned style of writing (the author looks exactly as I imagined) and after so many books it is a definite "potboiler “and I hated it.

Harriett Elsdon

This book is part of a long series of stories following the life and work of Inspector Montalbano, a Sicilian policeman. It appears that there are at least 22 previous books about Montalbano, I understand that there is also a television series.

The tale follows the police trying to solve a murder and eventually discovering where a Mafia family had been hoarding their wealth, it is poorly written, lacks detail to create the scene and seems to rely on the reader knowing a lot about his life from previous books, The writing would lead more to a script for a television drama rather than a book.

The author seems to be trying to create humour by making some of the police appear foolish/stupid, one in particular was emphasised as being unable to pronounce names and simple words, perhaps Italians from the North like making fun of Sicilians, he also chose to write the conversation with a German solicitor with poor spelling to indicate the man was not speaking in his native tongue, I found this slightly racist.

In short, it is poorly written with a poor plot.

Janet Donaldson

This is book twenty-two in the Inspector Montalbano Mystery series. I have not read any of the others although I do like a good mystery/crime novel. It is written in Italian and translated and my feeling is it loses some richness in translation.

I found the story a little lack luster and it certainly did not grip me. That said I persevered and found some interest in the exploration of the mind of Detective Montalbano as he solved the crime without much evidence and very little in the way of clues. Given the Mafia connection, there might have been more drama and excitement but that never materialized.

There is an interesting side story as the detective worries about his own memory and mental agility, which gave the book some pathos.

Would it encourage me to read others in the series – no not at all. There are far more gripping mystery/crime writers out there and this was not for me.

Steve Ellis

As someone who has enjoyed Inspector Montalbano on the TV screen I was looking forward to reading my first book.

Overall I wasn't disappointed , the core characters ( detectives , Livia , Enzo etc.) have such a strong relationship with the Inspector that the interchanges are always lively.

The investigation of the Mafia crimes and the crime of passion smokescreen is something Montalbano relishes.

If I could offer one minor criticism is how the spoken words for Catarella are written in English/Italian style which wasn't to my liking.

Overall the book is a very absorbing insight into Sicily life warts and all! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.

Many thanks to Viking Cruises for sending me the book to review.

Lesley Day

The Pyramid of Mud was written by Andrea Camilleri and published in Italy in 2014. It was translated and published in the UK in 2018. It is the twenty second book in the series of books about Inspector Montalbano and is based in Sicily. To be honest I have never read any books by Mr Camilleri before so it was going to be an interesting read for me.

The story begins with Inspector Montalbano waking during a tremendous thunderstorm; it had been raining for days and not only Sicily but all of Italy was suffering from mud slides and flooding. A phone call takes the Inspector to a large sewage tunnel where the body of Giugiu Nicotra is found with a bullet in his back. The Inspector sets off with his team to find the murderer and all roads led to the Mafia. To find out what happens next, you’ll need to pick up the book!

The story was a little slow to get into, but I was soon gripped and looked forward to finding out who the culprit was. I did find the “slang” Italian used by one of the Inspector’s colleagues a little tedious but it didn’t spoil the read for me.

If you enjoy murder mysteries, then this will be a good holiday read for you.

Margaret Abrams

Just my bad luck! Was my first reaction. I had once tried to watch an Inspector Montalbano episode on TV but found it boring and silly and therefore felt I didn’t want to read or review this book. However when I read that the Sunday Times rated it and, more importantly, the Guardian (my newspaper of choice) I decided to give it a go!

After first few pages I knew my first inclination was correct. This book was not for me but I persevered.

Positives were that descriptions were well drawn and the atmosphere grew. The story was becoming intriguing. Of course there were the predictable Mafia hints but the tale drew me in.

More annoying was the fact that some characters talked in a strange way. Necessarily one presumes all conversations would be in Italian so why would Catarella’s speech be so different (for example “Chief. I wannit a inform yiz ‘at I finally manitched to retoin to da premisses”. Is this meant to show a stupid policeman or possibly lower class. I couldn’t guess! But it didn’t add to the story.

However, a slow enjoyment came and although I still don’t agree with the two newspapers, I found it an easy read and could recommend it for a plane journey or possibly for reading on a Viking cruise as it is a lightweight story that can be picked up and interrupted and then restarted. A flimsy but pleasing tale.

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