Musings: THE DANCE OF THE SEAGULL by Andrea Camilleri

The Dance Of The Seagull _15 -19966fSome crime novels that are part of long running series can be read, and reviewed, in isolation while others, like the adventures of Salvo Montalbano, can’t really be appreciated in this way. To me THE DANCE OF THE SEAGULL reads very much like a long-ish chapter in a whopper of a book rather than a complete entity in its own right and on one level that kind of grates on my nerves (I am increasingly annoyed by unfinished business). However the book is so funny and so clever and so…Camilleri… that I can’t help but love reading it and be sad that another dose of life in Vigàta is once again over.

Not that it matters overly much but the story of this one is more compelling than some of its immediate predecessors, focusing on the search for Inspector Montalbano’s much loved colleague Fazio who seems to have disappeared in odd circumstances. Such is Montalbano’s worry and need to do everything possible to locate his friend that he completely forgets his plans to take a holiday with his occasional girlfriend Livia and at one point he physically collapses under the strain of it all.

But these novels are never really about the stories. At least not for me. They’re about the sensibility Camilleri provides…an enveloping sense of place, a humour that oscillates between near-slapstick and being surreal, a central character who is never entirely likeable but is always interesting, a perspective on life in Modern Italy – the politics, the corruption, the often inexplicable inability of anything or anyone to be on time, the reverence for good food.  And they’re about a fairly normal man triumphing over the dim-witted and/or corrupt people around him, be they criminals or his bosses. There’s a lot to love about all of that.

As always there are niggles with the book including the persistently poor depiction of women, Montalbano’s obsession with his age (at 57 he comes across as someone nearer 75 with all his ailments and woes) and a couple of fairly silly insertions of the real world of Camilleri the author into Montalban’s fictional world. But for fans none of this will matter as they lap up the instalment with delight and perhaps, as I do each and every time, dream of holidays in Italy and a world in which the bad guys are occasionally outwitted.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Translator Stephen Sartarelli
Publisher Pan Macmillan (this edition 2013, original edition 2009]
ISBN 9781447229926
Length 281 pages
Format paperback
Book Series #15 in the Montalbano series

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9 Responses to Musings: THE DANCE OF THE SEAGULL by Andrea Camilleri

  1. Jose Ignacio says:

    I have not read this book yet, however I think you’ve captured remarkably well the essence of the series, Bernadette.


  2. Bernadette – I enjoyed this one too and I think you’re spot on as you put it in the context of the other novels. It is a little darker than more recent ones, and I found it tenser if I can put it that way. But I do love the wit and I am a sucker for the setting. I agree with you that Camilleri doesn’t exactly treat women well in his novels but somehow he gets away with it when I’m reading them. I notice it and I don’t like it. But I read on…


  3. Kathy D. says:

    Yes. Good review, capturing the essence of what we fans like about the books. I liked the humor about Camilleri, found it laugh-out-loud funny. And the story was interesting, although a bit more gory than the usual books, but I liked it anyway.
    And, true, Camilleri/Montalbano has a problem with his portrayals of and attitude towards women. This is a series which I don’t loan out to women friends, most of whom would notice and not like this aspect of the books.
    But, amazingly to myself, I ignore this and move on, enjoying Vigata, the food, the beaches, the humor and all of it, even appreciating the Sicilian curmudgeon.


  4. Sarah says:

    Interesting review, Bernadette. My reading of Camilleri has been patchy and I have heard that this isn’t one of his best. Nice to get a balanced review.


  5. TracyK says:

    I agree, very good review. I have only read the first in this series but have several more to read. I am glad to get the information that order matters here. And all your other insights into the series are useful. Thanks very much.


  6. col says:

    Ditto Tracy, one down, about eight or nine to go. I guess I ought to get back to him sometime soon. Nice review.


  7. JoV says:

    I look forward to my first three series of Andrea Camilleri which I have on my Kindle. Great musing, I am sure I will enjoy it.


  8. Kathy D. says:

    I want to add that I don’t think this is one of Camilleri’s best books, and there was more gore than usual, which I could have lived nicely without reading.


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