Inspector Montalbano enjoys simple pleasures: delicious food, walks along the water, the occasional smoke yet these are just the backdrop to his duties as a detective. His latest case is the killing of the wealthy Cosimo Barletta. Thought to be a widower living out a quiet life by the sea, Cosimo's sudden death, by gunshot to the neck, opens up his past to scrutiny. What Montalbano uncovers is Cosimo's trove of salacious photographs, used to extort young women, and a history full of greed and corruption. Montalbano, though resolved to find the killer, muses on where justice lies in his pursuit of a suspect or with one of Cosimo's innumerable victims getting the revenge they deserved?
I turn to these books partly for the plot, but mostly for the unapologetically grumpy Montalbano, the food porn, the supporting characters and the locations.
In terms of plot, A NEST OF VIPERS undoubtedly isn't the strongest Montalbano book in the series. There was nothing particularly mysterious about the identity of the murderer, the reason for the murder and really, sometimes a victim is almost too deserving for there to be much in the way of interest in the investigation. There is, fortunately in this series, always much to distract the reader. Whether it's the food, the locations, Montalbano's ongoing odd relationship with Livia or his eccentric cast of colleagues, including the wonderful Cat, there are reasons to spend time with these books over and above the mystery elements.