If I could live the life of any fictional detective, I would definitely choose Salvo Montalbano. He’s the protagonist of a series of novels set in Sicily by Andrea Camillieri. The books are well done, with a pezzettino of literary playfulness that you’d find in Eco, Sciascia, or Calvino.
What I love about the series, though, is the 28-part TV version, starring Luca Zingaretti in the title role. It’s spectacular visually, with all that sunshine and the ancient hill town of Ragusa standing in for the fictional Vigata.
Here are the five main reasons why I want to be Montalbano:
- He lives in a beautiful apartment that looks out over the sea. The apartment has a large terrace with a small bistro table and two chairs—perfect for seaside, moonlight dining.
- Montalbano is a gourmet. He often goes to a seaside restaurant where they seat him at his preferred table on the patio, and he enjoys a glass or two of wine with lunch.
- He has a housekeeper, Adelina. In addition to cleaning, she cooks amazing food and leaves it for him in the fridge. Thus, if a beautiful woman happens by at, say, 10 PM, he can invite her to dinner on his terrace. Adelina’s arancini always induce pleasurable sensations in actors eating them. It’s almost obscene.
- Beautiful women reliably have car trouble in front of his house. Though it’s a rustic area, they dress immaculately in high heels and tight dresses that ride up when they peer under the hood to see what’s wrong with their Fiats and Peugeots.
- Montalbano is not a team player. He hates sharing information. In spite of that, the policemen working for him are intensely loyal. Except for skirt-chasing Mimi Augello, the team of Fazio, Galluzzo, and Catarella are always on hand to carry out orders. They’re like Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard backing up Diana Ross.
In my view, Montalbano provides a much more satisfying reading or watching experience than his better-selling Scandinavian contemporaries—Wallander and Blomkvist and Salander. The weather’s better and he’s a brighter, more balanced character who doesn’t have a single tattoo anywhere on his body.