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Authors: Andrea Camilleri

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Game of Mirrors

BOOK: Game of Mirrors
6.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Praise for Andrea Camilleri and the Montalbano Series

“Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteries might sell like hotcakes in Europe, but these world-weary crime stories were unknown here until the oversight was corrected (in Stephen Sartarelli’s salty translation) by the welcome publication of
The Shape of Water
. . . . This savagely funny police procedural . . . prove[s] that sardonic laughter is a sound that translates ever so smoothly into English.”

The New York Times Book Review

“Hailing from the land of Umberto Eco and La Cosa Nostra, Montalbano can discuss a pointy-headed book like
Western Attitudes Toward Death
as unflinchingly as he can pore over crime-scene snuff photos. He throws together an extemporaneous lunch of shrimp with lemon and oil as gracefully as he dodges advances from attractive women.”

Los Angeles Times

“[Camilleri’s mysteries] offer quirky characters, crisp dialogue, bright storytelling—and Salvo Montalbano, one of the most engaging protagonists in detective fiction. . . . Montalbano is a delightful creation, an honest man on Sicily’s mean streets.”

USA Today

“Camilleri is as crafty and charming a writer as his protagonist is an investigator.”

The Washington Post Book World

“Like Mike Hammer or Sam Spade, Montalbano is the kind of guy who can’t stay out of trouble. . . . Still, deftly and lovingly translated by Stephen Sartarelli, Camilleri makes it abundantly clear that under the gruff, sardonic exterior our inspector has a heart of gold, and that any outbursts, fumbles, or threats are made only in the name of pursuing truth.”

The Nation

“Camilleri can do a character’s whole backstory in half a paragraph.”

The New Yorker

“Subtle, sardonic, and
molto simpatico
: Montalbano is the Latin re-creation of Philip Marlowe, working in a place that manages to be both more and less civilized than Chandler’s Los Angeles.”

Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)

“Wit and delicacy and the fast-cut timing of farce play across the surface . . . but what keeps it from frothing into mere intellectual charm is the persistent, often sexually bemused Montalbano, moving with ease along zigzags created for him, teasing out threads of discrepancy that unravel the whole.”

Houston Chronicle

“Sublime and darkly humorous . . . Camilleri balances his hero’s personal and professional challenges perfectly and leaves the reader eager for more.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“The Montalbano mysteries offer
cose dolci
to the world-lit lover hankering for a whodunit.”

The Village Voice

“In Sicily, where people do things as they please, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is a bona fide folk hero.”

The New York Times Book Review

“The books are full of sharp, precise characterizations and with subplots that make Montalbano endearingly human. . . . Like the antipasti that Montalbano contentedly consumes, the stories are light and easily consumed, leaving one eager for the next course.”

New York Journal of Books

“The reading of these little gems is fast and fun every step of the way.”

The New York Sun

To request Penguin Readers Guides by mail (while supplies last), please call (800) 778-6425

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Also by Andrea Camilleri

Hunting Season

The Brewer of Preston


The Shape of Water

The Terra-Cotta Dog

The Snack Thief

Voice of the Violin

Excursion to Tindari

The Smell of the Night

Rounding the Mark

The Patience of the Spider

The Paper Moon

August Heat

The Wings of the Sphinx

The Track of Sand

The Potter’s Field

The Age of Doubt

The Dance of the Seagull

Treasure Hunt

Angelica’s Smile


© Elvira Giorgianni


Andrea Camilleri, a bestseller in Italy and Germany, is the author of the popular Inspector Montalbano mystery series as well as historical novels that take place in nineteenth-century Sicily. His books have been made into Italian TV shows and translated into thirty-two languages. His thirteenth Montalbano novel,
The Potter’s Field
, won the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger Award and was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator and the author of three books of poetry.


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

A Penguin Random House Company

First published in Penguin Books 2015

Copyright © 2011 by Sellerio Editore

Translation copyright © 2015 by Stephen Sartarelli

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Originally published in Italian as
Il gioco degli specchi
by Sellerio Editore, Palermo.


Camilleri, Andrea.

[Il Gioco degli specchi. English]

Game of mirrors / Andrea Camilleri ; [translated by] Stephen Sartarelli.

pages cm

ISBN 978-1-101-61326-9

1. Montalbano, Salvo (Fictitious character)—Fiction. I. Sartarelli, Stephen, 1954—translator. II. Title.

PQ4863.A3894G6813 2015



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



He’d already been sitting for at least two hours, naked as the day God created him, in a chair that looked dangerously like an electric chair, wrists and ankles bound in iron bands to which were attached a great many wires that led into a metal cabinet all decorated on the outside with quadrants, pressure gauges, ampere meters, barometers, and little green, red, and blue lights blinking on and off without end. On his head was a sort of dome just like the hair dryers that hairdressers put on ladies’ heads when giving them a perm, except that his was connected to the cabinet by a large black cable with hundreds of colored wires wound up inside.

The doctor, a man of about fifty with a helmet of hair parted in the middle, a goatee, gold-rimmed glasses, a smock that couldn’t possibly have been any whiter, and an obnoxious, conceited air, had been asking him questions rapid-fire, such as:

“Who was Abraham Lincoln?”

“Who discovered America?”

“What do you think of when you see a woman with a nice backside?”

“What’s nine times nine?”

“What would you rather eat, an ice-cream cone or a piece of moldy bread?”

“How many of Rome’s seven kings were there?”

“What would you rather see, a funny movie or a fireworks display?”

“If a dog attacked, would you run away or stand your ground and growl?”

At a certain point the doctor suddenly fell silent, went
ahem ahem
with his throat, removed a stray thread from the sleeve of his smock, looked Montalbano in the eye, then sighed, shook his head in discouragement, sighed again, went
ahem ahem
again, pushed a button, and the iron bands around the inspector’s wrists and ankles popped open and the dome rose up above his head.

“I guess the examination’s over,” the doctor said, going and sitting down behind the desk in a corner of the medical office. He started writing at the computer.

Montalbano stood up and grabbed his underpants and trousers in one hand, but he felt perplexed.

What was that
I guess
supposed to mean? Was the goddamned pain-in-the-ass examination over or not?

A week earlier he had received a memo signed by the
commissioner informing one and all that, in keeping with the new rules regarding personnel, issued personally in person by the minister of justice, he would have to undergo a mental health checkup at the Clinica Maria Vergine of Montelusa within ten days’ time.

Why was it, he’d wondered at the time, that a minister can have the mental health of his subordinates checked, but a subordinate couldn’t have the mental health of the minister checked? And so he’d protested to the commissioner.

“What do you want me to say, Montalbano? These are orders from on high. Your colleagues have all cooperated.”

“Cooperate” was the watchword. If you didn’t cooperate, rumors would fly that you were a pedophile, pimp, or serial nun rapist, and you would be forced to resign.

“Why don’t you put your clothes back on?” the doctor asked.

“Why don’t I . . . ?” the inspector muttered, searching for an explanation and beginning to get dressed. And that was when it happened. His trousers no longer fit. He was sure they were the same ones he’d had on when he came in, but they’d shrunk. Try as he might to suck in his gut, try as he might to squeeze himself into them, there was no way. They didn’t fit. They were at least three sizes too small for him. In his last desperate attempt to put them on, he lost his balance, leaned one hand on a cart with a
mysterious device on it, and the cart shot off like a rocket and crashed against the desk. The doctor leapt up in the air, startled.

“Have you gone mad?”

“My trousers . . . won’t fit,” the inspector stammered, trying to explain.

Getting up angrily, the doctor grabbed the trousers by the belt and pulled them up for him.

They fit perfectly.

Montalbano felt as ashamed as a little boy in kindergarten who needed the teacher’s help in getting his clothes back on after going to the bathroom.

“I already had my doubts,” the doctor said, sitting back down and resuming his writing at the keyboard, “but this last episode has swept away any lingering uncertainty.”

What did he mean?

“Could you explain?”

“What’s to explain? It’s all so clear! I ask you what you think about if you see a beautiful woman’s backside and you reply that you think of Abraham Lincoln!”

The inspector balked.

“I did? I said that?!”

“Do you want to contest the recording?”

Montalbano had a flash and suddenly understood. He’d been set up!

“It’s a plot!” he started yelling. “You all want to make it look like I’m crazy!”

Before he’d even finished yelling, the door flew open and two burly orderlies burst in and seized him. Montalbano tried to break free, cursing and kicking in every direction, and then . . .


. . . and then he woke up. Bathed in sweat, with the sheet rolled around him so tightly that he couldn’t move. Like a mummy.

When he finally managed to free himself, he looked at the clock. It was six in the morning.

The air coming in through the window was hot. Scirocco. The patch of sky he could see from his bed was entirely covered by a milky veil of cloud. He decided to lie there for another ten minutes.

No, the dream he’d just had was wrong. He would never go crazy, of that he was certain. If anything, he would start going senile little by little, forgetting the names and faces of the people dearest to him, until he sank into a sort of mindless solitude.

What nice, comforting thoughts he had first thing in the morning! His solution was to get up, race into the kitchen, and make coffee.

When he was ready to go out, he realized it was too early to go to the station. He opened the French door giving onto the veranda, sat down outside, and smoked a cigarette. It felt really hot. He decided it was better to go back inside and loll about the house until eight.

He got in his car and started driving down the little road that linked Marinella with the provincial road. About two hundred yards from his house was another small house, almost identical to his, which after sitting vacant for about two years was now inhabited by a childless couple, the Lombardos. The husband, Adriano, was a tall, stylish man of about forty-five who according to Fazio was the sole representative in all of Sicily of a large computer brand, a job that required him to travel a great deal. He owned a fast sports car. His wife, Liliana, about ten years younger than him, was an impressively attractive brunette from Turin. Tall with long, perfect legs, she must have engaged in some kind of sport. And when you saw her walking from behind, even if you were stark raving mad, you most certainly thought of Abraham Lincoln. For her part, she had a small Japanese car for driving around town.

Their relations with Montalbano went no further than “good morning” and “good afternoon,” on those rare occasions when they crossed paths in their cars along the access road—which usually meant a complicated series of maneuvers, since the road was not wide enough for two vehicles to pass side by side.

That morning, out of the corner of his eye Montalbano saw Signora Lombardo’s car just inside the open gate to her property, with the hood up and the lady bent over,
looking inside. There seemed to be some sort of problem. Since he was in no hurry, almost without thinking he swerved to the right, went another ten yards or so, and pulled up in front of the open gate. Without getting out of the car, he asked:

“Need a hand?”

Signora Liliana beamed a grateful smile.

“It won’t start!”

Montalbano got out but remained outside the gate.

“If you need to go into town, I can give you a lift.”

“Thank you so much. I am in something of a rush, actually. But do you think you could have a quick look at the engine?”

“Believe me, signora, I don’t know the first thing about cars.”

“All right, then. I’ll come with you.”

She lowered the hood, came through the gate without shutting it, and got into the car through the door that Montalbano was holding open for her.

They drove off. Though the windows were all down, the car filled with her scent, which was at once delicate and penetrating.

“The problem is I don’t know any mechanics, and my husband won’t be back for another four days.”

“You should give him a call.”

Signora Lombardo seemed not to have heard the suggestion.

“Couldn’t you recommend one yourself?”

“Of course. But I don’t have his phone number on me. If you like, I can take you to his garage.”

“Wonderful. You’re so kind.”

They didn’t say anything else for the rest of the drive. Montalbano didn’t want to seem nosy, and she, for her part, though polite and affable, clearly didn’t want to get too familiar. After he introduced her to the mechanic, she turned and thanked him, and their brief encounter came to an end.


“Augello and Fazio here?”

“’Ey’re onna scene, Chief.”

“Send them to me.”

“’Ow’s ’ey gonna come, Chief?” Catarella asked, confused.

“What do you mean, how’re they gonna come? On their legs, that’s how!”

“But ’ey ain’t ’ere, Chief, ’ey’re onna scene where the scene is.”

“And where’s this scene?”

“Wait an’ I’ll have a look.”

He picked up a piece of paper and read it.

“’Ere i’ssez Via Pissaviacane, nummer twinny-eight.”

“Are you sure it’s called Via Pissaviacane?”

“Sure as death, Chief.”

He’d never heard of it.

“Ring Fazio and put him through to my office.”

The telephone rang.

“Fazio, what’s going on?”

“Somebody put a bomb in front of a warehouse in Via Pisacane very early this morning. No injuries, just a terrible fright and some broken windows. And a big hole in the metal shutter, naturally.”

“What’s inside the warehouse?”

“Nothing, actually. It’s been empty for almost a year.”

“I see. And the owner?”

“I questioned him. I’ll tell you everything later. We’ll be back in about an hour, max.”


He started grudgingly signing some papers, just so that the huge stack on his desk might find a slightly less precarious equilibrium. For some time now Montalbano had formed a clear idea about a mysterious phenomenon, but he preferred not discussing it with anyone. Because if he did, they certainly would consider him mad. The phenomenon was the following: How was it that the number of documents actually managed to increase during the night? How could one explain that when he left in the evening, the stack was three feet high, and when he returned in the morning it was three and a quarter, long before the day’s mail was delivered? There could be only one explanation. When the office was dark and deserted, the documents, unseen by anyone, would scatter around the room,
shucking off their slipcovers, folders, and binders, and indulge in unbridled orgies, interminable copulations, unspeakable cluster fucks. So that the following morning, the fruits born of their nights of sin would increase the volume and height of the stack.

The telephone rang.

“Chief, ’at’d be Francischino onna line, wantin’ a talk t’yiz poissonally in poisson.”

Who on earth was that? But rather than waste time with Catarella, he had him put the call through.

“Who is this?”

“It’s Francischino, Inspector, the mechanic.”

“Ah, right. What is it?”

“I’m calling you from the Lombardos’ home. Somebody busted up their engine. What should I do? Tow it into the garage, or leave it here?”

“I’m sorry, but why are you asking me?”

“Because the lady don’t answer her cell phone, and since she’s your friend—”

“She’s not my friend, Francischì, she’s just an acquaintance. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“All right, sorry.”

One of the things the mechanic said stuck in the inspector’s mind.

“Why do you say somebody ‘busted up’ her engine?”

“Because that’s what happened. They opened the hood and did a load of damage.”

“Are you saying it was done on purpose?”

“I know my trade, Inspector.”

So who could have anything against the lovely Liliana Lombardo?


“So what’s this all about?” the inspector asked Fazio and Augello as soon as they sat down in front of him.

It was up to Deputy Inspector Domenico Augello, whom everyone called Mimì, to answer. And, in fact, he said:

“In my opinion, it’s a case of nonpayment of protection money. But Fazio doesn’t agree.”

“Let’s hear you out first,” said Montalbano.

“The warehouse belongs to a certain Angelino Arnone, who also owns a grocery, a bakery, and a shoe store. That makes three protection-racket payments he has to pay. Either he forgot to pay a couple, or they upped the price and he refused. And so, to bring him back in line, they sent him a warning. That’s what I think.”

“And what’s this Arnone have to say?”

“The usual bullshit we’ve heard a thousand times before. That he’s never paid the racket because he’s never been asked to pay, that he has no enemies and is loved by all.”

“And what do you think?” Montalbano asked Fazio.

“I dunno, Chief, the whole thing just doesn’t add up to me.”

“Why not?”

“Because it would be the first time they set a bomb off in front of a warehouse to get somebody to pay the racket. What did they damage? His metal shutter? With a few euros it’s all taken care of. Whereas according to normal procedure, they should have put it in front of his grocery or bakery or shoe store. In that case the warning would make sense.”

The inspector didn’t know what to say. On the other hand, Fazio’s doubt wasn’t really so far-fetched.

“So why, in your opinion, didn’t they stick to normal procedure this time?”

“I have no answer, to be honest. But if you’ll allow me, I’d like to know more about this Angelino Arnone.”

“Fine, gather your information and then let me know. Oh, and just what kind of bomb was it?”

“A classic time bomb. Inside a cardboard box that looked like it was left there for the garbage collectors.”

BOOK: Game of Mirrors
6.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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