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Maybe you know him on TV, but Inspector Montalbano is also the star of a literary series.
What is the Inspector Montalbano series about?
The main character in the series written by Italian author Andrea Camilleri, Inspector Montalbano is a Sicilian detective in the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town.
The series is written in Italian but this is a reading order for the English-translated books. There are more books available in Italy than in the US.
The Inspector Salvo Montalbano series ended following the death of Andrea Camilleri in 2019.
How to read the Inspector Montalbano Books in Order?
Every book in the Inspector Montalbano series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Shape of Water (2002)
- The Terra-Cotta Dog (2002)
- The Snack Thief (2003)
- Voice of the Violin (2003)
- The Excursion To Tindari (2005)
- The Smell of the Night (2005)
- Rounding the Mark (2006)
- The Patience of the Spider (2007)
- The Paper Moon (2008)
- August Heat (2009)
- The Wings of the Sphinx (2009)
- The Track of Sand (2010)
- The Potter’s Field (2011)
- The Age of Doubt (2012)
- The Dance of the Seagull (2013)
- Treasure Hunt (2013)
- Angelica’s Smile (2013)
- Game of Mirrors (2015)
- A Beam of Light (2015)
- A Voice in the Night (2016)
- A Nest of Vipers (2017)
- The Pyramid of Mud (2018)
- The Overnight Kidnapper (2019)
- The Other End of the Line (2019)
- The Safety Net (2020)
- The Sicilian Method (2020)
- The Cook of the Halcyon (2021)
- Riccardino (2021)
What is the plot of the Inspector Montalbano novels?
For more information about the books in the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
The Shape of Water – Silvio Lupanello, a big-shot in Vigàta, is found dead in his car with his pants around his knees. The car happens to be parked in a part of town used by prostitutes and drug dealers, and as the news of his death spreads, the rumors begin. Inspector Salvo Montalbano must battle against the powerful and corrupt who are determined to block his path to the real killer.
The Terra-Cotta Dog – Inspector Montalbano’s latest case begins with a mysterious têtê à têtê with a Mafioso, some inexplicably abandoned loot from a supermarket heist, and dying words that lead him to an illegal arms cache in a mountain cave. There, he finds two young lovers, dead for fifty years, watched over by a life-sized terra-cotta dog.
The Snack Thief – When an elderly man is stabbed to death in an elevator and a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off Sicily’s coast, only Inspector Montalbano suspects the link between the two incidents.
Voice of the Violin – Inspector Montalbano’s gruesome discovery of a lovely, naked young woman suffocated in her bed immediately sets him on a search for her killer. Among the suspects are her aging husband, a famous doctor; a shy admirer, now disappeared; an antiques-dealing lover from Bologna; and the victim’s friend Anna…
Excursion to Tindari – In two seemingly unrelated crimes, a young Don Juan is found murdered and an elderly couple is reported missing after an excursion to the ancient site of Tindari. As Inspector Montalbano works to solve both cases, he stumbles onto Sicily’s ghastly “new age” of brutal and anonymous criminality.
The Smell of the Night – Half the retirees in Vigáta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Inspector Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a hostile superior has shut him out of the case…
Rounding the Mark – Two seemingly unrelated deaths form the central mystery of Rounding the Mark. They will take Inspector Montalbano deep into a secret world of illicit trafficking in human lives, and the investigation will test the limits of his physical, psychological, and moral endurance.
The Patience of the Spider – Still recovering from his gunshot wound, Montalbano must overcome self-imposed seclusion and waxing self-doubt to penetrate a web of hatred and secrets in pursuit of the strangest culprit he’s ever hunted.
The Paper Moon – the moody Inspector Montalbano further beset by the existential questions that have been plaguing him of late. But he doesn’t have much time to wax philosophical before the gruesome murder of a man-shot at point-blank range in the face with his pants down-commands his attention.
August Heat – When a colleague extends his summer vacation, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is forced to stay in Vigàta and endure the August heat. Montalbano’s long-suffering girlfriend, Livia, joins him with a friend—husband and young son in tow—to keep her company during these dog days of summer. When the boy suddenly disappears into a narrow shaft hidden under the family’s beach rental, Montalbano, in pursuit of the child, uncovers something terribly sinister.
The Wings of the Sphinx – Ayoung woman is found dead, her face half shot off and only a tattoo of a sphinx moth giving any hint of her identity. The tattoo links her to three similarly marked girls-all victims of the underworld sex trade. The problem is, Inspector Montalbano’s inquiries elicit an outcry from the Church and the three other girls are all missing.
The Track of Sand – Inspector Montalbano wakes from strange dreams to find a gruesomely bludgeoned horse carcass in front of his seaside home. When his men came to investigate, the carcass has disappeared, leaving only a trail in the sand. Then his home is ransacked and the inspector is certain that the crimes are linked.
The Potter’s Field – An unidentified corpse is found near Vigàta. Meanwhile, a woman reports the disappearance of her husband, a Colombian man with Sicilian origins who turns out to be related to a local mobster. Then Inspector Montalbano remembers the story from the Bible-Judas’s betrayal, the act of remorse, and the money for the potter’s field, where those of unknown or foreign origin are to be buried-and slowly, through myriad betrayals, finds his way to the solution to the crime.
The Age of Doubt – The day after a storm floods Vigàta, Inspector Montalbano encounters a strange, bedraggled woman who expresses interest in a certain yacht scheduled to dock that afternoon. Not long after she’s gone, the crew of the yacht reports having found a dinghy in the port, and within it, a disfigured corpse.
The Dance of the Seagull – Fazio is nowhere to be found and Inspector Montalbano soon learns that he was last seen on the docks, secretly working on a case. Montalbano sets out to find him.
Treasure Hunt – A hail of bullets interrupts a period of dead calm. An elderly brother and sister open fire on the plaza below their apartment. After that, Inspector Montalbano begins to receive cryptic messages in verse, challenging him to go on a “treasure hunt.”
Angelica’s Smile – A rash of burglaries has got Salvo Montalbano stumped. The patterns of the crimes are so similar and so brazen that Montalbano begins to think a criminal mastermind is challenging him. This suspicion is confirmed when he starts receiving menacing letters from the gang leader, the anonymous Mr. Z.
Game of Mirrors – Inspector Montalbano and his colleagues are stumped when two bombs explode outside empty warehouses. Meanwhile, the alluring Liliana Lombardo is trying to seduce the Inspector over red wine and arancini. Between pesky reporters, amorous trysts, and cocaine kingpins, Montalbano feels as if he’s being manipulated on all fronts.
A Beam of Light – When Inspector Montalbano falls under the charms of beautiful gallery owner Marian, his longtime relationship with Livia comes under threat. Meanwhile, he is also troubled by a strange dream as three crimes demand his attention.
A Voice in the Night – Montalbano investigates a robbery at a supermarket, a standard case that takes a spin when manager Guido Borsellino is later found hanging in his office. Was it a suicide? The inspector and the coroner have their doubts.
A Nest of Vipers – Inspector Montalbano’s latest case is the killing of the wealthy Cosimo Barletta. Thought to be a widower living out a quiet life by the sea, Cosimo’s sudden death, by gunshot to the neck, opens up his past to scrutiny. What Montalbano uncovers is Cosimo’s trove of salacious photographs, used to extort young women, and a history full of greed and corruption.
The Pyramid of Mud – On a gloomy morning in Vigàta, a call from Fazio rouses Inspector Montalbano from a nightmare. A man called Giugiù Nicotra has been found dead in the skeletal workings of a construction site, a place now entombed by a sea of mud from recent days of rain and floods. The investigation gets off to a slow start, but all the evidence points to the world of construction and public contracts.
The Overnight Kidnapper – The day gets off to a bad start for Montalbano: while trying to break up a fight on Marinella beach, he hits the wrong man and is stopped by the Carabinieri. When he finally gets to the office, the inspector learns about a strange abduction: a woman was abducted, drugged, and then released unharmed a few hours later.
The Other End of the Line – A wave of refugees has arrived on the Sicilian coast, and Inspector Montalbano and his team have been stationed at port, alongside countless volunteers, to receive and assist the newcomers. Meanwhile, Livia has promised their presence at a friend’s wedding, and the inspector, agreeing to get a new suit tailored, meets the charming master seamstress Elena Biasini. But while on duty at the dock one late night, tragedy strikes, and Elena is found gruesomely murdered.
The Safety Net – Vigàta is bustling as the new filming location for a Swedish television series set in 1950. In the production frenzy, the director asks the locals to track down movies and vintage photos to faithfully recreate the air of Vigàta at that time. Meanwhile, Montalbano is grappling with a double mystery, one that emerges from the past and another that leads him into the future . . .
The Sicilian Method – Mimi Augello is visiting his lover when the woman’s husband unexpectedly returns to the apartment; he climbs out the window and into the downstairs apartment, but one danger leads to another. In the dark he sees a body lying on the bed. Shortly after, another body is found, and the victim is Carmelo Catalanotti, a director of bourgeois dramas with a harsh reputation for the acting method he developed for his actors.
The Cook of the Halcyon – Giovanni Trincanato has brought ruin to the shipyard he inherited from his father and when a worker he fires hangs himself on the construction site, Inspector Montalbano is called to the scene. In short order, the inspector loses his temper with the crass Giovanni, delivers a slap to his face, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last he sees of Trincanato. Meanwhile, a mysterious schooner called Halcyon shows up in the harbor, seemingly deserted except for just one man. With its presence comes even more mysteries, another death, and the arrival of the FBI.
Riccardino – Montalbano receives an early-morning phone call, but this time it’s not Catarella announcing a murder, but a man called Riccardino who’s dialed a wrong number and asks him when he’ll be arriving at the meeting. Montalbano, in irritation, says: “In ten minutes.” Shortly after, he gets another call, this one announcing the customary murder. A man has been shot and killed outside a bar in front of his three friends. It turns out to be the same man who called him.
Montalbano’s Short Stories
Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories – Andrea Camilleri has selected twenty-one short stories, written with his trademark wit and humor, that follow Italy’s famous detective through highlight cases of his career.
Death at Sea: Montalbano’s Early Cases – a collection of eight short stories featuring the young Inspector Montalbano. In 1980s Vigàta, a restless Inspector Montalbano brings his bold investigative style to eight enthralling cases. From jilted lovers and deadly family affairs to assassination attempts and murders in unexpected places…
What should you read if you like the Inspector Montalbano novels?
If you like reading Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano stories, you may be interested in Guido Brunetti, Bruno, Chief of Police, Verlaque and Bonnet.