This was substantially better than the previous two books in the series which were, frankly, unworthy of Camilleri and the Montalbano character. In this episode Montalbano is investigating a string of quite clever burglaries and meets a beautiful young woman who sweeps him off his feet and transports him back to his early youth, and reignites his childhood fantasies about the beautiful Angelica in Orlando Furioso. And as the novel progresses Montalbano recapitulates the highs and lows experienced by Orlando, but with the ever-present worry of being 58 years old and well past his prime.
The novel works well as a mystery: you have an inkling of who is responsible for the burglaries, but there’s nothing really substantial to go on until near the end. And it works equally well as a vehicle for Camilleri to further develop the Montalbano character: a complex mixture of canny instinct, self-doubt, and self-delusion.
The usual cast of characters has been pared down to just Montalbano, Livia, Catarella, Dr. Pasquano, and Fazio. Augello, Galuzzo, and … the other G guy … are not to be seen. Not a huge loss, but I do hope to see them again.
In all, this episode ranks among the middle of the earlier novels in the series - a big step up from its recent predecessors.