When burglars repeatedly break into Montalbano's home it becomes obvious that someone's keeping the place under surveillance and is intent on sending Salvo a message. It's not, however, clear whether the message relates to the horse or to a forthcoming trial involving a Mafia suspect.

That's probably as far as we can go with the detail without giving things away as far as the main plot line is concerned, but there are the usual array of set pieces and sidetracks to carry things along. Fazio gets to display his mania for detailed information, Mimi Augello is being kept awake at night by his infant son and Gallo continues to impersonate a Formula One driver at Monza.

And Catarella continues to be Catarella, though he does manage to escape telephone duties at the station since his presence would work against the sting that Montalbano comes up with that may unlock the case.

Predictably, food continues to occupy a key place in the narrative, though it's not always of the highest quality. When Ingrid drags him along to the races a main course of mullet that had been dead for a week provides Rachele with the opportunity go get Salvo out of his pants and there's the regulation guilt and attraction issues that threaten Montalbano's long standing relationship with Livia.

With The Potter's Field, Number Thirteen in the series due in September there's not that long before the next instalment, but I'd be a lot happier if it was right there on the horizon right now, preferably closely followed by The Age of Doubt. With two more titles in the pipeline after that there's no immediate end to the series in sight, but then, when you're dealing with an author in his eighties...

But, in the end, all the reader needs to know is that The Track of Sand is another Montalbano book with everything we've come to expect present though not quite correct as the plot twists and turns towards the eventual explanation.

© Ian Hughes 2012