Andrea Camilleri starts the Track of Sand with the brutal killing of a horse just off Inspector Montalbano’s veranda. As he and his eccentric team of policemen are inspecting the crime the body of the animal disappears. It is unclear to the Inspector and the reader if the horse belongs to a stunning Roman equestrian, Rachele, or one of the leaders of the local mafia. Rachele shows up at the Vigata police station to report the missing horse and thus is started a complicated and often humorous relationship between herself and the Inspector.
The reader learns that as Inspector Montalbano enters his 56th year his eyesight is fading, he is becoming more forgetful and his relationship with long time love, Livia, is causing him to lose sleep. Also, affecting his sleep is a series of odd and oddly realistic dreams. Could they help him solve the crime at the center of this mystery or are they a glimpse into his future? The Inspector’s Swedish friend Ingrid makes more than one appearance in Track of Sand and more than one bottle of whiskey is drunk in her company.
In this fun and entertaining book Montalbano continues his pursuit of a good meal. One of the best parts of this novel is a description of a truly atrocious dinner Montalbano is forced to attend. The Inspector makes up for one bad meal with trips to Enzo’s and meals prepared by his cook and housekeeper Adelina. Adelina continues to make the Inspector delicious dinners of caponata (a typical Sicilian dish made with eggplant) most often accompanied by a fresh fish such as mullets. She also leaves his refrigerator full of green olives, black passuluna olives, caciocavallo cheese and anchovies. Just once I would like to look in my refrigerator and see what Montalbano sees.
One of the many things I enjoy about Camilleri’s books is his references to local issues, politics and culture. At one point he refers to a book titled “The Milanese Kill on Saturdays” the idea being that the Milanese kill on Saturday’s because they are too busy working the other days of the week. Montalbano says there could be a book that is called “The Sicilians Don’t Kill on Sundays” because they go to morning Mass with the whole family, then go pay a visit to the grandparents, where they stay for lunch; in the afternoon they watch the match on television and, in the evening, again with the whole family they go out for ice cream. Where would they find time to kill anyone on Sundays? Sounds like a nice way to spend a Sunday, doesn’t it?
From Publisher’s Weekly
At the start of bestseller Camilleri’s robust 12th Inspector Montalbano mystery (after 2009’s The Wings of the Sphinx), the Sicilian inspector looks out his window and sees the carcass of a horse on the beach. The animal, he discovers, has been bludgeoned to death. As he turns his back to phone in the crime, the horse vanishes, leaving a track in the sand. Was the horse slaughtered for its meat by illegal immigrants? Is someone trying to send a message to the owner? Or is the Mafia edging its way into the racing industry? The repeated vandalizing of Montalbano’s home and a Mafia thug’s murder complicate the investigation. The street-smart inspector takes a broadly comic trip to the racetrack in an effort to link all these events together. While convoluted plotting and byzantine complexities distract, Montalbano uses some creative chicanery and tweaking of the law to provide a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.