A surrealistic touch in the Inspector Montalbano novels

This are some sections from Andrea Camilleri’s Rounding the Mark, one of the Inspector Montalbano series – one which will always remain in my consciousness due to when and where I read it but that is a different story – as always.  Basically, these sections portray how a new patrolman in Montalbano’s station turns to have everything that is needed by the Inspector. What makes the whole issue more surrealistic and fanciful is that this patrolman never appears directly and all the characters except Montalbano interact with him….. Have a look for yourself. The page numbers are of the Picador edition of the book.

Pages 93-95

“Cat, see if there’s anyone here who can lend me a tie,” he said as he passed him on the way yo his office.
Catarella turned up five minutes later with three ties.
“Whose are they?”
“The same guy who lent his glasses to Riguccio?”
He chose the one that least clashed with his grey suit. After another hour and half of signing, he’d managed to finish the stack. He Looked around for his briefcase in which he normally put his papers when he went to meetings. He turned his office upside down looking for it, cursing the saints, but to no avail.
“Your orders, Chief.”

He had almost certainly taken it home and left it there.
“See if anyone in the office -”
“Right away, Chief.”
He returned with two almost new briefcases, one black, the other brown. Montalbano chose the black.
“Where’s you get them?”
“Torretta, Chief.”
Had this Torretta opened some kind of emporium inside the police station? He thought for a minute about going to see him at his desk , then decided he didn’t give a damn…..

“F*** you, Mimi, and get me Catarella!” the inspector yelled as Mimi left.
Two seconds were all it took for Catarella to materialise.
“Your orders, Chief.”
“See if Torretta has a soft pack of red Multifilters and a lighter.”
Catarella seemed unfazed by the request. He disappeared, then reappeared with the cigarettes and lighter. The inspector gave him the money and went out wondering if the Torretta Emporium had any socks, as he would soon be needing some.

Page 148

“Fazio? Sorry to bother you at this hour, but the other day, I think I saw one of our men with a small video camera-”
“Yeah, that was Torrisi, Chief. He just bought it. From Torretta.”
Of course! Torretta must have moved the entire Zanzibar bazaar into the Vigata police headquarters.

Page 161

“Yessir, Chief!”
“Get Torretta to lend you a magnifying glass.”
“Right away, Chief.”
He’d guessed right. Catarella returned with a big magnifying glass and handed it to the inspector.
“Thanks, you go now. And close the door behind you.”
He would’t want to be caught by Mimi or Fazio in a pose typical of Sherlock Holmes.

Page 248

He left the room. Passing Caterella, he asked:
“Cat, could you find out if Torretta has some wire cutters and a pair of thigh-high rubber boots?”
He did. Wire cutters and boots.

And this is how Montalbano fared in the pre-Torretta days. This passage is from page 245 of the Excursion to Tindari – which I must mention was the first Montalbano I had ever bought but strangely, the third one I read.

He hung up, sped off in his car, and then stopped in front of a large hardware shop. Self service. He bought himself a crowbar, a big pair of pliers, a hammer and a small hacksaw.
When he went to pay, the cashier, a dark, pretty girl, smiled at him.
“Have a good robbery,” she said.


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