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Excursion to Tindari

See all books by Andrea Camilleri. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up. We are experiencing technical difficulties. The Italian government responded with two measures designed to hit at the heart of Mafia power. Giovanni Falcone, along with Antonio Caponnetto, took on the role of leading the investigations of the principal Mafia families. So dangerous was the job that Caponnetto had to live in a heavily guarded police barracks close to his work.

Their efforts, however, paid off when one of the senior Mafia bosses, Tomasso Buscetta, became a pentito , agreeing to cooperate with Falcone in his investigations. With worldwide media glare illuminating the spectacle, the Italian public was now focused as never before on the problem of Mafia criminal activity in their midst.

Later in the s, the so-called Clean Hands investigations further weakened the Mafia by exposing the practice of rigged contract bidding.


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Despite these setbacks, however, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra is widely believed to be biding its time until promised investment in Southern Italy, both by the Italian government and European Union , materializes. It is thought that Cosa Nostra will then resume its efforts to skim a percentage of that investment capital. Slowly, Montalbano gathers clues to the murder. On his keychain is a key to an unknown building, a key that has, furthermore, been designed to prevent duplication.

Just as Montalbano starts piecing these clues together, a man named Davide Griffo steps forward to report that his parents, who live in the apartment building, have gone missing. The investigation now splits into parallel tracks, with as yet no link between them. A canvass of the apartment building yields few clues. The residents treat the detectives with vivid tales of his raucous, late-night lovemaking, the sounds of which echoed from within his flat.

The plot now detours to love affairs of other kinds.

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This news enrages Montalbano, who cannot accept what this means—the break-up of his team. His relationship to his men is so close and at times secretive that one of his superiors compares them to the Mafia. Yet Montalbano himself is romantically entangled, also at a distance, though he and Livia, unlike Augello and his lover, have reconciled themselves to their separate lives.

Despite her physical absence, however, Livia is a constant presence in the novel; she not only telephones Montalbano at key moments, but also humanizes him by figuring in his dreams, memories, and desires. In the meantime, we learn that the Griffos were last seen on a bus trip for seniors to Tindari, the Sicilian tourist site that gives the novel its title.

The Griffos were among three dozen or so retirees who had booked tickets with a local company for the day-long excursion to Tindari. As the bus driver tells Montalbano, most of the passengers on such trips are not interested in the sites themselves, but in spending time with other retirees; they always ask for the same driver because he is willing to make frequent stops along the way.

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When Montalbano interviews some of the passengers, he learns that the Griffos sat in the very last seat of the bus, keeping to themselves and not conversing with anyone. Montalbano discovers that there was another key passenger on the bus, a woman named Beatrice Dileo who sold kitchenware and other related products to the other passengers along the way.


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  • First, she reveals that despite the availability of better seats, the Griffos. Tindari, a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, was founded as a Greek colony in b. Its strategic location in the hills of northern Sicily enabled the Greeks to rule the waters between the nearby city of Messina and the Aeolian Islands just off the coast, but it was subsequently controlled by the Carthaginians and the Romans.

    The ruins of the ancient city are still visible. The origin of the black Madonnas is a subject of academic debate. Some scholars argue that they derive from the Byzantine period, and others claim that their blackened appearance results from the accumulation of hundreds of years of soot. Still others hold that these statues represent pagan goddesses who have been Christianized.

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    The Black Madonna of Tindari was first honored with a procession in , and each year on her feast day September 8 , thousands of pilgrims descend on Tindari to view the Madonna. Second, when the bus arrived at Tindari, the Griffos never got off, raising the question of why they went. Third, it was Mr. Without saying much more than this, Sinagra conveys another key message: he wants his grandson, Japichinu, who is in hiding, to be picked up and sent to jail, in order, paradoxically, to keep him safe from the younger mobsters who will otherwise certainly kill him.

    Montalbano later discovers that he is to be the means to this end. Montalbano realizes Sinagra wants to make him a pawn in a generational struggle between Sinagra and his grandson, but he refuses to play the part. Montalbano instead sends word to Sinagra that he must bury Japichinu quietly. There will be no investigation and no media coverage.

    Montalbano soon learns that the Griffos have not only disappeared but have also been murdered, mob style; they were forced to kneel down, then shot in the head. Hereafter, the novel shifts from one investigation to the other and back again, moving from each new clue to the next.

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    This is a modest sum, but still unusual for retirees with no other known source of income. The video depicts a nude woman who the inspectors believe will help them solve the murder. It is here that the two cases become intertwined. As Montalbano predicted, his right-hand man, Augello, and Beatrice, the beautiful saleswoman-passenger, become involved. The ability to see this car, Montalbano realizes, is the reason the Griffos made sure to sit in the rear of the bus.

    It involves a piece of rural land with a small building on it that was left to Mrs. Griffo by her sister. Montalbano finds the site and breaks down the door to the one-room building, only to discover a bare room outfitted with numerous electrical outlets and phone jacks.

    His interest in the remote building led him to the Griffos, who had inherited it. The Griffos would be paid monthly on condition they said nothing about the deal or their inheritance of the land, even to their son. Later, however, Montalbano arrives at a different conclusion, one that brings us back to the Mafia and its pervasive presence in Sicilian life.

    They offer him all the money he wants to buy paintings on condition that he supply their clients across the globe with transplants taken from donors in jails, immigrant detention centers, and the like. The detective is likewise familiar with European painting, music, and philosophy. A whip-smart inspector, he is funny, wise, loving, and extraordinarily responsive to the beauty of the land and sea that surrounds him. Such a portrayal counters the negative image of the South still held by many Italians.

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    The novel turns on an excursion to a place unique to Sicily: Tindari, a city first established by the Greeks, then successively colonized and conquered, and now as famous for its black Madonna as for the ruined walls of the ancient city. More broadly, Montalbano finds emotional sustenance in the specific geography of Sicily, particularly its seashore and hills.

    From its opening scene to its very end, the novel constantly reminds the reader of the sea. Even when Montalbano is not directly looking at it, smelling it, or swimming in it, he feels the ocean in his marrow and in his stomach. When Montalbano interviews Beatrice Diello for the first time, the meeting takes place over a meal of squid ink risotto and freshly grilled sea bass. In this and many other instances, the novel reminds its readers of a unique place and of the sophistication of the people who live there.

    The localisms remind readers that Sicily in many ways retains a distinct culture evident at least in part through its dialect. Montalbano does not appear to be based on any historical person. Rather he belongs to a richly detailed tradition of literary detectives dating from the nineteenth and twentieth-century stories of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. But what sets Montalbano apart is his rootedness in Sicily and his profound immersion in the great tradition of western art, literature, and philosophy—a buttress against the constant threat of death he faces in his interactions with the murderous forces of Cosa Nostra.

    As at other moments, he uses the world of aesthetics and literature to impose his own sensibility and notions of order on the seamy and sometimes dangerous world of crime. Camilleri is also notable for a kind of wry, postmodern irony he takes to his subject, in which he reflects on the artifice or strategies of the detective genre itself. An observation true in some circles but untrue in others, whose members consider detective fiction as important as the realist novel or postmodern drama.

    As noted above, one measure of his immense popularity is the translation of his novels into several languages.

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    But the novels are also a phenomenon in Italy. Frank Bruni, in a glowing tribute in The New York Times , notes that during one particularly heady summer in the s, six of the bestsellers in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica were authored by Camilleri. Bondanella, Peter, and Andrea Ciccarelli, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,