Another great title in the Inspector Montalbano series…
Note: I’ve been a huge fan of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series for years, and I was actually reading an advance review copy of The Other End of the Line when I heard that Camilleri had passed away in July, 2019. The Other End of the Line was, at that time, the most recent title in the series to have been translated into English. And although I’m posting this review on my blog much later, in 2021, I still remember the bittersweet feeling of really enjoying this book, while knowing that Camilleri’s wonderful series would soon be coming to an end.
And now for the actual review, from way back in 2019…
One of the things I have always liked about Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano is his essential kindness, even though it can sometimes be hidden a bit underneath his usual world-weary/gruff manner. And in The Other End of the Line, that kindness is very much on display in the way Montalbano addresses the wave of refugees arriving in Sicily, one of the most refugee-impacted areas in the EU. Unlike the authorities, he treats the refugees like human beings, with dignity, and in doing so, once again earns his place in our hearts.
But of course, there is also a mystery to be resolved – in this case, the murder of the (female) tailor who was making him a suit. Yes, Livia has “persuaded” him to get a new suit (!!!) – with disastrous results. As always, it was a pleasure to follow along with Montalbano and his team as they investigate and figure out what happened. And while puzzling over the crime, I also got to learn a bit about the clothing/garment trade, which is something I didn’t know much about.
All-in-all, I thought this was a great entry in this series, and am sad that there won’t be many more – just however many are still left in Italian, waiting to be translated into English. I don’t give five star ratings easily, but The Other End of the Line gets one.
When reviewing a later book in a series, I usually try to imagine if this could be easily read by someone who hasn’t read the whole series. In this case, I think The Other End of the Line could be enjoyed without reading prior titles. However, I also think it would be even more enjoyable with some knowledge of longer-term story arcs, like Montalbano’s relationship with Livia, or with a bit of feeling for the characters on Montalbano’s team, like Cat, Mimi, and others. So, if all else is equal, I’d give consideration to starting at the beginning and reading your way through – if for no other reason than that you’re going to want to go back and read the early titles anyway, once you’re done with this one!
And finally, I would like to thank Penguin and Edelweiss for providing me with the advance review copy.