Vehicle for Social Commentary
Sapna Dudeja
RICCARDINO: AN INSPECTOR MONTALBANO MYSTERY by Andrea Camilleri Penguin Books, 2021, 272 pp., 1461.00
December 2021, volume 45, No 12

Andrea Camilleri’s 28th and final murder mystery in the Inspector Montalbano series, Riccardino is a befitting ending to this extremely popular crime series with over 65 million copies sold across the world. Adapted for Italian TV and screened on BBC 4, the series has been translated into 32 languages. Camilleri started writing the series in 1994 when he was about 70 years old and wrote the final book in 2004, deposited it with his publisher on the condition that it be published only after his death. Surprised to find himself alive at 91 in November 2016, he revisited the story and found it ‘good and unfortunately still relevant’. No wonder then that the motif of death is all pervasive in this last novel in the series as also the desire to continue living through one’s work, both in the author as well as in his beloved protagonist. Multiple references to old age and death related anxiety connect with the longing for closure in the novel and in the author’s note added to later editions. On the other hand, one also finds the life affirming, vitalizing descriptions of and love for food that constitute an in-built resistance to the death trope within the novel, that itself guarantees the continued afterlife of both Montalbano and Camilleri.

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