Voice of the violin

by Andrea Camilleri

Other authorsStephen Satarelli (Translator)
Paperback, 2004




New York : Penguin, 2004.


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, whose charms Montalbano cannot help but appreciate. But it is a reclusive violinist who holds the key to the murder. Montalbano does not disappoint, bringing his compelling mix of humor, cynicism, compassion, and love of good food to solve another riveting mystery.

Media reviews

Chronologically the fourth outing for Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his Sicilian team of detectives, THE VOICE OF THE VIOLIN is a perfect example of all that is good about this series. The plot is one of the stronger, leaner ones...Salvo's gradual uncovering of the true story leading to the crime is logically satisfying, as well as introducing a rewarding set of characters among the witnesses and suspects.

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
The Book Report: Inspector Montalbano, adjusting to a new climate both professional and personal, is presented with a dilemma: How can he officially take note of a crime he discovers when committing a crime himself? He resolves to solve a horrible, seemingly inexplicable murder, one that truly makes your heart hurt, and yet faces mounting problems within his new professional situation. In the end, he takes his lowest, to date, policemanly ebb and turns it into the routing of forces arrayed against him with the help of a shut-in paraplegic, a reclusive retired musician, and the Mafia, abetted by his media lapdogs and loyal through-and-through team.
His personal life, meanwhile, takes its customary back seat...but with more-than-usually severe consequences, ones that make the ending of the previous book look very unlikely to come to fruition. The resolution of this story line is surprising, but in line with Camilleri's evolving character portrait of Montalbano.

My Review: As always, Camilleri makes me drool, moan, and breathe deeply with his Sicilian cuisine and atmosphere evocation. I want to go there now, and stay there, and follow Montalbano around saying "I'll have what he's having" to everyone I meet. But there are lots of emotional roadblocks in Montalbano's world, and there are a lot of points where he seems hell-bent for leather to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That he, in the end, decides to do the things that are true to his character in the last ~40pp is a testament to how clear Camilleri's vision of him is. And I would like to offer, with grateful hugs and awestruck genuflections, praise unstinting to the translator of the series: Stephen Sartarelli, apparently a published poet in his own right. He's deft, he's witty, he's thorough, and he's got something I've seldom encountered: a submersible ego. His translation, I am reliably informed by an ex-pat family member who's been reading the gialli as they come out in Italy, is tonally spot-on to Camilleri's original language.


Don't read the series out of order, too much subtle and delicious detail is lost that way. But really, really wise and discerning fiction readers will read the series.
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LibraryThing member VivienneR
It is sad that Montalbano and Livia will not get their adopted son but this might be good because I still see this couple as completely mismatched - and the child is obviously happy where he is. Montalbano is a free spirit as far as detection is concerned, and must always leave time to appreciate the finer things in life, like excellent coffee and gourmet food. Not a bad mystery although I spotted his early mistake right away when he omitted to search the car, an obvious course of action in the circumstances.… (more)
LibraryThing member Smiler69
When Montalbano accidentally discovers a murdered woman naked and suffocated on her bed, there are plenty of complications and likely suspects. One of them is a slow-witted young man who was seen at her home. Another is her husband, who was fully aware that his wife had lovers on the side. And how come she had a home built just for herself? And why did she always carry a fortune in jewels in her purse? As he questions various acquaintances and friends of the deceased beauty, he can't help but fall for her friend Anna, a younger woman who clearly likes him a lot. Meanwhile, things aren't going well with his girlfriend Livia, who is putting on the pressure to get married. I enjoyed the ride, but must admit the resolution of the murder left me quite confused. But that could be because my mind was wandering. Not an ending anyone is likely to guess at, in any case!… (more)
LibraryThing member pw0327
In The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries), Andrea Camilleri threw his protagonist into a mind set and cricumstances that Montalbano would never have voluntarily accepted. But the circumstances of the previous book wreaked havoc with his emotions and his life. In this novel, life more or less gets jerked back into place.

The beauty of this book, as with the entire series is HOW the circumstances jerked it back into place. All is not what it appears, that is the mantra of most mystery novels, none more so than the Inspector Montalbano series. Because Camilleri is juggling many balls at once. he is making social and political comementaries on the state of Italian and Sicilian politics and cultrue, he is talking about food, and the proper appreciation of food. he is also making judgement calls on relationships between people, whether it is between men and women or everyday dealings, he has a lot to say. But this isn't a series about third person reveries on the esoteric subject of human relations, the protagonist is not sitting on some exalted throne, making sniggly and cowardly observations. The protagonist is in the middle of the fight between right and wrong while also living in a world suffused with grey moral tonalities. It is, as I had said before, extremely Italian, where justification is often demanded but the circumstances will always diffuse the response into meanginglessness.
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LibraryThing member tututhefirst
Another well-crafted plot in a gorgeous setting with one of the best cast of characters in detective fiction today. Montalbano and his crew are worth following in the series from the beginning. Camilleri gives us the soul of Sicily in robust but realistic dialogue, dazzling descriptions of food, and the temperament of a hardened detective who still appreciates opera, poetry, classical texts, the ocean breezes and a beautiful woman. Perhaps the best part for English readers is the wonderful translation by Stephen Sartarelli. The cadence of the language, the imagery and the emotions are all wonderfully preserved.… (more)
LibraryThing member richardgarside
I love these books - well written, evocative of landscape and people and a great main character
LibraryThing member JBCrocker
Smooth and fun. This book is a feast if you like Sicily and mysteries.
LibraryThing member Joycepa
4th in the Inspector Montalbano series.

Montalbano and Gallo are on their way to a funeral. Thanks to Gallo’s mania for speed, they inadvertently crash into a parked car, causing extensive damage to both cars. Still, the police car can move, and they proceed to the funeral after Montalbano conscientiously leaves a note with his name and phone number under the windshield wiper of the other car. But when they return, there is no sign that the owner has even been near the car.

Suspicious, Montalbano makes a midnight reconnaissance of the house in front of which the car is parked, and finds a beautiful naked woman who has been murdered by suffocation. Naturally, he can not report the crime, since he is in the house illegally, but ever ingenious, he calls on a friend, an old woman with whom he has worked before, to make an anonymous phone call to the police.

The old police commissioner, a friend of Montalbano’s, has retired, and a new one who has absolutely no use for Montalbano (the feeling is mutual) and his idiosyncratic ways, removes him from the case and puts it in the hands of an arrogant publicity seeker—with disastrous results.

To make life even more bizarre, Catarella is selected to attend computer school to the cynical amusement of all hands. Except that strange things happen in that arena as well.

This is pure Montalbano in the hands of that master craftsman, Camilleri, and has all the elements that so delighted in the earlier books: humor, well-drawn characters over the entire spectrum of recurring and non-recurring, it-can-only-happen-in-Sicily ambiance, good plotting, and more food to die for. You can’t lose with this series.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
I have to admit that this one didn't appeal to me as much as the previous books in the series. This one had a bit of a 'what's next' feel about it as the re-occurring characters no longer have a great many surprises for us and even the whole Montalbano / Livia story arc just fell a bit flat for me. Even the crime to solve was kind of 'ho-hum'. The story did allow Montalbano some time to reflect and ruminate on his life a bit, so a little more insight into our lead character did surface. the mystery finally took on a new dimension rather late in the story that worked well in bringing things all together but overall, this one was missing some of the sharp Sicilian outlook, caustic humour and mafioso/bureaucracy triangles I had come to enjoy and expect. That being said, I will still continue with the series and have already started listening to the next book in the series, Excursion to Tindari.… (more)
LibraryThing member Marzia22
Decent mystery, but I hated the translation and the reading, even if they were the intention of the author.
LibraryThing member Condorena
This is a reread for me. One of the best series in print in my opinion. Andrea Camilleri transports me to Sicily and into Inspector Montalbano's life with in a paragraph or two. Whenever I want a sure thing I pick up the next in this series. When they are done I'll start over.
LibraryThing member thornton37814
Inspector Montalbano suspects something isn't quite right when the police accidentally crash into a car and no one has retrieved the note they left from the windshield. They find a murdered woman in the home. Suspicion falls to a mentally challenged young man who has a crush on the woman, but Montalbano suspects he did not do it even though superficial evidence points to the man. As usual, police corruption is a theme in the book. I found myself enjoying this installment very much as I listened to the excellent reading by Grover Gardner. I was quite amused by some of Montalbano's interactions with one of his men.… (more)
LibraryThing member phoenixcomet
The first novel I've read by Andrea Camilleri and so compellingly Italian that I positively loved it. Inspector Montalbano is an irrascible, cranky cop extremely good at his job. When Mikaela Licausi is murdered he is assigned the murder only to have it taken out from underneath him. Regardless he continues on the case following the track of the murderer until the moment when the violin talks to him and he sees the solution.… (more)
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
As inspector Montalbano investigates the murder of a woman from Bologna whose body was discovered in the house she was renovating, he also has to navigate departmental politics. When the new commissioner takes the case away from Montalbano and assigns it to the captain of the Flying Squad, Montalbano continues to investigate it under the radar. It may jeopardize his career if he’s found out. On the home front, Montalbano’s plans to marry his girlfriend and adopt an orphan hit a snag.

In this fourth book in the series, Montalbano’s flaws have become familiar. He is irritable, short-tempered, he’ll lie when it’s more convenient than the truth, and he is quicker to insult his subordinates than to compliment them. His strengths are also familiar. He is loyal, compassionate, and tenacious in his pursuit of the truth. He will not let a case rest until he is certain that he’s found the real culprit. The Sicilian scenery and local cuisine provide an appealing backdrop for this series.
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LibraryThing member sianpr
Another outing for a very grumpy Montalbano
LibraryThing member FAR2MANYBOOKS
First, my compliments to Stephen Sartarelli on his translation and notes compiled for the reader to understand every nuance of Camilleri's written word.
Some say that the pace of the book is slow, but, I enjoyed this differing flavor on a detective novel. Camilleri is able to immerse us in the world of Inspector Montalbano: his love and enjoyment of mediterranean food coupled with a detailed description of the sea and the warm and rocky Sicilian geography. With a mix of humor, cynicism, compassion, and love of good food, Montalbano goes into battle against the powerful and the corrupt who are determined to block his path. This is a"delicious" discovery for mystery afficionados and fiction lovers.… (more)
LibraryThing member nordie
I watched the TV series on BBC4 long before I read any of the books, so my review is a mix of both the show and the book

The Voice of the Violin is number 4 in the Commisario Montalbano series of books, and number 2 of the tv show.

On the way to a funeral, Montalbano and Gallo end up in a crash due to Gallo's speeding, hitting a stationary car on the side of the road. They don't know who owns parked car or house. Following a visit to the hospital, the pair drive back past the house and see the car still sitting there untouched.

Mimi puts Caterella forward for an IT course, which means Caterella is not there for most of the episode, which can be a good thing, as his form of slapstick delivery can get annoying if played too much. Salvo and Livia argue about their wedding and fostering of François . Mimi is off on another case, which means that Salvo doesn't get to talk things out with him much, either about the case or Livia.

Salvo visits the house where they had the crash, and breaks in, finding the naked body of a dead woman in a large room (in the book, the body is face down in the bedroom). He returns to visit an elderly lady from the previous episode, Clementina Vasile Cozzo, and gets her to make an anonymous phone call reporting the dead body. Whilst there he meets the old man Barbera from upstairs who is a violinist.

The team visits the house again, formally this time, but because of the location, it's not their usual forensics team who turn up. Fazio twigs that Salvo has been there before and checks that he wore gloves. The dead woman is Michela, who is/was married to a much older, rich man called Licalzi who knows she has at least one lover: Serravalle, an antiques seller in Bologna. The Licalzi live elsewhere and she is down to convert the villa, maybe into a hotel.

In investigating her time in Vigata, Montalbano finds her friend Anna, who tells Salvo that Michaela had been stalked by Maurizio di Blasi, a mentally deficient 31-year-old.

On the personal front, François has chosen to stay with Franca and her family and is worried that Salvo is going to take him away. Livia is not happy when told and claims it is because Salvo doesn't want to be a father, so they have another argument.....

Salvo is taken off the case by the commissioner he doesn't like, and that combined with François makes him grumpy. di Blasi gets arrested by the flying squad only to be killed in the following shootout. With di Blasi dead, Salvo decides to resume the investigation. He hears that the mafia have a witness that claims it didn't go down as described, and the suspected hand grenade was in fact di Blasi's shoe.

Salvo visits Panzacchi, captain of flying squad with a video showing that di Blasi wasn't carrying a grenade. He tells Panzacchi to sort it out as it will bring down Commissioner and the local Judge if the video gets out. The following day Panzacchi resigns and Salvo is back on the case. Fazio and Mimi know there's more going on they don't know about, and Galluzzo puts his foot in it by trying to celebrate.

Anna says she saw Michaela with an older man she remembered was a violinist but Michaela didn't want to talk about it further. He asks her some further questions, she's disappointed when he doesn't make a pass. Realising that the situation is not about sex or love, Salvo goes looking for the money and in going through her papers Salvo realises she's been fiddling her expenses

Livia pops round, having been to see François , and had been persuaded to talk to Salvo by Mimi, as they have become friends. She's upset but coming to terms that François doesn't want to leave Franca and her husband and the situation is not really Salvo's fault.

Salvo visits maestro Barbera (the violinist he met previously) who confirms he knew Michela and that she had asked him to get a certain violin certified and he had lent her one in return, however not the one that was found in the house when she died. Salvo then begins to piece things together so following the funeral, Salvo visits Serravalle in his hotel suite, puts forward his theory that Serravalle is heavily in debt due to gambling and Michela had been helping him. In desperation, he decides to kill her and steal the violin, not knowing it was the replacement and therefore practically valueless.

Serravalle points out impossible to prove but realises that being arrested by the police is better of two bad options. Salvo lets him go off on his own to pack his bag, only for a gunshot to ring out....

I read the book after watching the episode several times. The show runs very close to the book, with just a few scenes that are different - e.g. where the body is found, that Salvo calls Caterella "Cat", and Caterella's inability to talk properly is made clear.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The fourth installation of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series, The Voice of the Violin contains all the ingredients that I have come to expect from this excellent series. A perplexing mystery, interesting characters, a little humor, a lot of food and some authentic Sicilian touches. In this outing the Inspector is investigating the murder of a beautiful woman who was suffocated in her bedroom. There are a number of suspects but motive is the thing that needs to be discovered. My only quibble with the book was the fact that the title indicated in which direction Montalbano and his crew needed to look.

Montalbano is in fine form as he bends and shapes the rules to suit him in his investigation. There is also a sidestory that explore the Inspector’s life away from police work, and resolves a plot that was carried over from his previous book, The Snack Thief. In a series that is full of excellent characters, Montalbano is unique. He manages to be three steps ahead of his opposition, deals with political fallout, keeps his underlings in line yet still takes time to savour life, romance and food. I am looking forward to the next book.
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LibraryThing member jguidry
I enjoy this mystery series. The descriptions of the Sicilian culture is interesting without overtaking the mystery story. I really enjoyed the mystery in this novel. The twists were fun without being too over-the-top. I love Montalbano as a character. He is interesting as a knight with dented armor. Grover Gardner did an excellent job as narrator of this audiobook.… (more)
LibraryThing member mysterymax
One thing I love about this series is that they are all translated by the same person, so the fine nuances of the characters is consistent throughout the series. In this one, Montalbano is being driven to a meeting when he's involved in a car accident. They leave a note on the car, but hours later the note is still there. Montalbano gets a bad feeling and enters the house and finds a dead body.… (more)
LibraryThing member leslie.98
In addition to a very good 'whodunit', I love all the food references in these Inspector Montelbano books.
LibraryThing member quondame
Inspector Montalbano drives through some difficult territory to learn unpleasant things but finds he knows enough to recognize the good stuff. His appetite seems to be suffering somewhat.
LibraryThing member barlow304
As always, entertaining and with a very strong sense of place!

Inspector Montalbano faces a difficult task in finding the murderer of a beautiful and well liked young woman. In the course of his investigation, he has to fend off bureaucratic obstacles, an unscrupulous rival, and an amorous woman who might want to be more than friends.

Breezy, quick moving and at times very funny. I recommend the whole Montalbano series to people who like a mystery or who want to spend some time in Sicily.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
I've loved Donna Leon's detective series based in Italy and I was pleased when a friend gave me this book introducing a policeman in Sicily. Montalbano is an anti-establishment policeman who is more interested is solving a case correctly than conforming to the politically correct dogma of the police system. He's surrounded by interesting characters and although it was clear that the main suspect in the murder of a beautiful young woman was a red herring, it was still an interesting book. I appreciate good character development that occurs in a well written series.… (more)


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