Thursday, 22 August 2013


In Vigàta, a Sicilian town in the district of Montelusa, il commissario Salvo Montalbano has his own way to solve crimes while dealing with bureaucracy, politics, and sometimes mafia. This sharp detective, who inspires perplexity to his hierarchy and loyalty to his men, never compromises his principles.

Montalbano is often assisted by friends outside the force and always likes to taste fine cuisine at his favourite restaurant or in his beach house. He has a complicated relationship with his permanent fiancee Livia Burlando, who lives in Genoa.

Based on the novels by Andrea Camilleri, Il commissario Montalbano is a detective drama launched in 1999 by Italian pubcaster RAI and starring Luca Zingaretti in the title role. With 26 feature-length episodes to date, this production from Carlo Degli Esposti's Palomar and RAI Fiction is hugely popular in its country. Also appreciated abroad, the Montalbano mysteries are co-produced by Swedish television (SVT) and aired in the UK as Inspector Montalbano by BBC Four.

In France, Commissaire Montalbano is shown by France 3 and is available on DVD thanks to Koba Films. After a 3-disc Volume 1 DVD set released in June and containing Series 1 to 3 (6 episodes), the second volume arrives this week. Those six 100-minute episodes from the fourth and fifth series are written by Francesco Bruni (Il commissario De Luca), Andrea Camilleri and Salvatore De Mola, and directed as usual by Alberto Sironi. Il commissario Montalbano is filmed on different locations in the province of Ragusa, Sicily - doubling as the both fictious Vigàta and district of Montelusa. The music is by Franco Piersanti.

Each disc includes two cases of the Sicilian detective and his team: the  womanizing Mimi Augello (Cesare Bocci), the smart Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzota), Galluzzo (Davide Lo Verde), and the ineffable Catarella (Angelo Russo). Other familiar characters are back too: Salvo's long-suffering girlfriend Livia (Katharina Böhm), forensic specialist Jacomuzzi (Giovanni Guardiano), coroner Pasquano (Marcello Perracchio), journalist Nicolò Zito (Roberto Nobile), Ingrid Sjostrom (Isabell Sollman), Mimi's fiancee Beba (Carmela Gentile), old mafia boss Sinagra (Francesco Sineri), etc.

-The Sense of Touch (Il Senso del tatto): An old blind man dies in his house seemingly by accident. Montalbano keeps his guide dog while he stays with Livia at the hotel run by the old man's sister and her husband on an island off the Sicilian coast. Catarella finds a call for help on a piece of paper hidden in a pottery he just bought.

- Montalbano's Croquettes (Gli Arancini di Montalbano): Salvo must join Livia in Paris for New Year's Eve. Though he's tempted by
a dinner invitation from his housekeeper Adelina, who has promised to cook arancini. Mimi Augello has a very personal interest for the fatal car crash of a local figure and his wife. Adelina's son is involved in the burglary of the couple's villa.

- The Scent of the Night (L'Odore della Notte): An investor from Milan has vanished
with the savings entrusted to him by the people of Montelusa. Augello has doubts on his future wedding with Beba. Montalbano is furious because a hundred-years old olive tree has been hacked down. As if it wasn't enough, his superior demands him explanations about an old case.

- The Goldfinch and the Cat (Gatto e Cardellino): An old lady on her way to the church is mugged by a
helmet-clad motorcyclist who shoots at her with a blank cartridge. Mimi, on marriage leave, gets confused when he meets his female temp replacement. A man causes trouble at the ER because of his daughter. The girl's gynaecologist is missing.

- Turning Point (Il Giro di Boa):  Professionally disenchanted, Salvo Montalbano wants to resign.
During one of his morning swims he finds a decomposed body floating in the sea.

- Equal Time (Par Condicio): A young woman escapes two killers and disappears. Angelo Bonpensiero, of the Cuffaro mafia family, is found dead. It looks like an execution and everybody except Salvo is convinced this the start of a new war between the Sinagras and the Cuffaros.

Those six excellent cases are available with French audio only. Series 9
of Inspector Montalbano (aired last spring in Italy) starts this sunday on France 3. Swedish actress Lina Perned replaces Katharina Böhm as Livia Burlando.