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Summary

The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri's wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series featuring Inspector Montalbano.

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner's verdict is death from natural causes - refreshingly unusual for Sicily.

But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case - even though he's being pressured by Vigàta's police chief, judge and bishop.

Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.

The Shape of Water is followed by the second in this phenomenal series, The Terracotta Dog.

©2017 Andrea Camilleri (P)2017 Macmillan Digital Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Start to the series

I have to disagree with previous reviewer. Firstly it is not Camilleri's best book. It shows promise and obviously the Montalbano series went from strength to strength. I have read all translated so far, as reading in italian although possible is more of an intellectual exercise, and I certainly do not want to lose the flow of the story. In my opinion "the shape of water" is a great start but not a patch on the following books.
Secondly the narration is excellent to my mind, I am very choosy about narrators and often will not get books I consider great if the narration does not suit. I certainly dont want Montalbano done with a cheesy Italian accent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Really sad

Would you listen to The Shape of Water again? Why?

Been waiting to have all the Montalbano novels on Audible for years. Had heard some narrated by Daniel Philpott which were good. This narrator is just awful! He has a lovely voice but no feel for the books at all and has little ability to do a range of voices. Still love the stories but whoever let this guy narrate the second novel when they heard how badly he did the first made a bad call!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Shape of Water?

Story just as great as always but as already stated hard to find a high point in a poor narrative performance.

How could the performance have been better?

Another narrator!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, for the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Should I Stick or Twist?

I really don't know whether to stick at just this first book or twist and try another one. It's obvious from looking around other review sites that this is a much-loved series that improves as it goes on. I'd add that Inspector Maltabano shows some real promise as the central character, on a couple of occasions he delivers some cracking lines.

On the down side this cleverly named yet brief introduction to the series isn't as compelling as one might hope. The story is fairly mechanical and whether it's the original writing or the translation is hard to tell but a lot of the dialogue clunks along like speeches being delivered rather than organic interactions, especially the police commissioner at the end.

I think the narration by Mark Meadows is fine, to my inexpert ear his Italian pronunciation sounds authentic but this clashes with the English accents given to the characters at times.

So, mostly because my father promises that this becomes a really enjoyable series and those occasional killer lines delivered by Maltabano I will probably twist at some point but I don't feel a great urgency to do so.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent story. Let down by narration.

Like most people, my first introduction to Inspector Montalbano has been through the visual medium, in other words BBC 4 and I loved it from the start.

I have an advantage over most British people in that I speak fluent Italian, and having spent time there I get the subtleties and nuances that are missing in the subtitles. Having watched ALL the available programs so far and read some of the books, I thought I'd see how the Audiobooks compare so I invested one of my monthly credits into The Shape Of Water, the first novel.

Having read the book, it holds no surprises for me, so I was hoping to just be able to enjoy listening to it.

Alas, although I enjoy the story and the fun element, albeit, a lot is lost in translation, to me the whole thing is let down by the choice of narrator and the way it is being read. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Mark Meadows just gets this totally wrong.

The first thing I find grating is the English posh school accent delivered with an over the top RADA Radio play style with middle England characters. Think Wilmot-Brown and son, on Eastenders and you get the idea. NO one speaks like that in real life. They'd get a smack in the face.

Next, whenever a person or place name is spoken, it sounds like it's coming out of a vocoder with slight over the top parody of Italian. Think The Italian Captain on Allo Allo and you'd be on the right lines. On the plus side, they are mostly pronounced correctly, and for a British rendition, that is a miracle in itself. It was the one thing that I was dreading most, so happy with that at least, allowing for what I've already said.

Thirdly, Montalbano just sounds wrong and most of the other charcaters, given the very little variety in the rendition, don't ring right either. It just does not say Sicily, Italy, or even Anywhere remotely near the Med. Surrey stockbroker belt definitely.

The translation of the Montalbano books also leaves a little to be desired and could have been much better. Some Italian phrases have been translated in a slap dash manner and really do not make good reading or hearing in English. A minor point maybe.

I don't think I'll invest in anymore of these unless the narrator is different and then I'll check out the preview first.

Hey ho, I was so looking forward to this.

Not recommended to real Inspector Montalbano fans. Others may enjoy it. I doubt the former will.