Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Ya Readin': The Snack Thief

I recently finished my fifth Andrea Camilleri novel. I started reading the series about four years ago but it initially failed to capture my interest. I noticed that Yvonne had a similar experience with his novels and so, with that in mind, gave them another go last year. I was won over. However, I am not reading the novels in any particular order, just as they come to hand.

In 'The Snack Thief' Inspect Montalbano is investigating the murder of an old man in a lift shaft. On the same day as the murder occured a Tunisian man working on an Italian fishing trawler was machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off Sicily's coast. Montalbano suspects there is a link between the two killings. His investigation soon leads him to the elderly man's cleaner - a beautiful Tunisian named Karima - who, with her son, has gone missing. Karima, it seems, also has links to Tunisian terrorists.

Her son, the 'snack thief' of the title, is found by Inspector Montalbano when he starts stealing other school children's mid-morning snacks. At this stage, Inspector Montalbano realises that Karima may have met with foul play and her son is also likely to be in danger. He takes the son into his own custody but soon discovers that there are very high powers indeed involved in the murders.

In essence 'The Snack Thief' is about international terrorism, and the lengths a government will go to to protect their citizens. What intrigued me about this book was that the inside cover reveals that it was first published in its original Italian in 1996. I was only 12 at that time, but it does not strike me that the mid 1990s was a period when issues of international terrorism featured large in literature.

As always, Camilleri is witty in his writing. I loved these lines...

'What's wrong?' Signora Antonietta asked in alarm.
There is no Sicilian woman alive, of any class, aristocrat or peasant, who, after her fiftieth birthday, isn't always expecting the worst. What kind of worst? Any, so long as it's the worst. Signora Antonietta conformed to the rule. (p. 40)


Thinking he'd had a light lunch, he felt obliged to eat everything. (p. 55)

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