The Voice of the Violin

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Voice of the Violin.jpg

The presence of François as  a complicating factor in the relationship between Montalbano and Livia provides an undercurrent bubbling below the main plot line in Montalbano #4 a.k.a. The Voice Of The Violin.

While being driven to a funeral in Floridia by Gallo, who suffers from what Camilleri labels the Indianapolis Complex an obviously suicidal chicken causes the car crash that in turn brings Montalbano onto another murder investigation.

Having done what anyone would do under the circumstances (leave a phone number under the other vehicle’s windscreen wipers), on the way back to Vigata Montalbano notices the note is still in place and the car hasn’t been moved since morning. Strange, since it’s parked outside a house that’s still under construction.

This situation obviously needs to be checked out, and when Montalbano does, his investigations reveal the naked body of an attractive woman from Bologna and we're off again.... 

Since his old boss and mentor retired and he doesn't get on with the bureaucrat who's filled the vacancy, it's no surprise to find Montalbano removed from the case, which on the surface looks straightforward enough to entrust to the Flying Squad.

There are, predictably, a couple of immediate suspects - the woman's husband, who seems unconcerned by his wife's infidelity, her antique dealer lover from Bologna and a local resident who's not the sharpest knife in the drawer and besotted to the point where obsession clicks over into stalking.

When the latter disappears he seems to be an obvious culprit, and it's Montalbano's reluctance to accept the way things seem brings about his removal from the case, which in turn leads to the stalker's demise. 

With the case resolved as far as his superiors are concerned, Montalbano continues digging and eventually comes up with the explanation, thanks to an antique violin which provides the motive for the murder although there's never going to be enough solid evidence to result in a conviction.

As you'd expect, there are a couple of subplots to keep things moving in the wider scenario. Montalbano's removal from the case doesn't go down well with his offsiders in Vigata, and collegial solidarity means that some of the old rivalries and tensions are consigned to the past. 

Then there's the issue of François' future, which looms as motivation for marriage until the boy decides he's perfectly happy where he is, thank you very much. 

It's not the sort of thing that's going to go down well with Livia, but when you need to keep Salvo and Livia as long distance lovers (marriage and family commitments would, after all, cramp Montalbano's style) it's the sort of development that needs to take place in the interests of characteristic continuity.

© Ian Hughes 2012