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Posted: May 16, 2021

A Track of Sand is a delightful read

Book Review

By Derryll White

Camilleri, Andrea (2010).  The Track of Sand.

Fifty-six and faltering, Inspector Salvo Montalbano does not know how to proceed with his twisted personal and professional life. He finds himself en flagrante with women he is not comfortable with, lies unconvincingly to his steady companion Livia, ignores his professional chain-of-command and finds himself at a loss with all of it.  Even food is not entirely appealing.  Is this what getting older feels like to a Sicilian male?

The Inspector, in his usual fashion, breaks all the work rules in unraveling the mystery of a brutally murdered horse left on the beach in front of his home.  As with many of Andrea Camilleri’s novels, the mystery is not really the point of the story.

He gives the reader a tangy taste of Sicily spiced with the sweat and fears of an Italian man growing older, worrying about his potency and his lust for life. Poor Montalbano is driven, a loose cannon at work and a lost soul in love.

The women here, Ingrid and Rachele, are very certain of their own abilities to handle life, and love.  They are delightful in the ways they lead and reproach Salvo.  And as always, with translator Stephen Sartarelli’s able assistance, Camilleri pokes at both Italian and world politics and gives the reader a commentary on our times.

As always, “A Track of Sand” is a delightful read.

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Excerpts from the novel:

AGING – Why had he done it?

It was a pointless question, in that he knows very well why: the fear – by now ever-present even when not visible – of the years passing by, flying by.  And his having been first with that twenty-year-old girl, whose name he did not even want to remember, and now with Rachele, were both ridiculous, miserable, pitiable attempts to stop time.  To stop it, at least, for those few seconds in which only the body was alive, while the mind, for its part, was lost in some great, timeless nothingness.

TELEVISION NEWS – Why did the TV people do it?  To make an already horrifying crime as hair-raising as possible.  It was no longer enough to report a death; they had to provoke horror.  After all, hadn’t the United States unleashed a war based on lies, stupidities, and mystifications that the most important figures in the country swore to by all that was holy in front of the whole world’s television cameras?  After which, those same television cameras, and the people behind them, on their own, put the icing on the cake.  And by the way, that anthrax case, whatever became of that?  How was it that, from one day to the next, everybody stopped talking about it?

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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