“You know what you are Salvo? You’re a colander that leaks water out of a thousand holes, and all I’m ever doing is trying to plug as many holes as possible. “
The Snack Thief is the third novel in the wonderful Sicilian crime series by Andrea Camilleri. These books just seem to get better and better, but perhaps I’m just getting fonder of Camilleri’s protagonist, the irascible, gourmet-food driven Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Opening up a Camilleri novel to read more adventures of Montalbano is like meeting an old friend.
The Snack Thief begins with the death of a Tunisian man who was one of the crew on a fishing boat. Since the man was fired on from a Tunisian patrol boat while in international waters, Montalbano is told that this incident could have serious “international repercussions.” But Montalbano, never one to accept orders from his ‘superiors,’ valiantly tries his best to avoid involvement in the case.
But soon Montalbano is distracted from the Tunisian case by the murder of a local man, businessman Lapecora who’s found stabbed to death in a lift. The case puzzles Montalbano, and the various attitudes of the victim’s neighbours manage to annoy the Inspector–a man not known for his patience. As Montalbano tries to solve the murder, he uncovers some very peculiar information about the victim, and intrigued, Montalbano concentrates on solving the case. Montalbano interviews an interesting assortment of characters–a hen-pecked husband, a jealous wife, philandering husbands, and a brutal hit man.
During the course of his investigation, Montalbano, a connoisseur of gourmet food and a student of human nature, indulges in a great number of elaborate meals while uncovering a vast number of dirty secrets. Montalbano’s long-suffering, long-distance girlfriend Livia makes an appearance (and this causes Montalbano’s housekeeper to disappear). The Snack Thief is not only a delightful read, but for Camilleri fans, the book hints that Montalbano’s existence (which is hardly carefree) is about to change forever. Montalbano is a flawed human being–there’s no argument there. From the way he lies about what food he’s eaten, to the way he refuses to be a ‘team player’ (how I loathe that term). But Montalbano has the sort of flaws we can accept, identify with, and forgive easily.