Last Montalbano published in Italy

Riccardino Andrea Camilleri
The final Inspector Montalbano novel was published in Italy yesterday, so the curtain has come down on the great detective’s illustrious career. Did he go quietly into retirement or meet a grizzly end? No spoilers, I promise, I haven’t read the book, and like a lot of British readers I know there are still two more adventures to enjoy before we get to Riccardino. Mantle will be publishing The Sicilian Method in October this year and after that there’s il cuoco dell’Alcyon.
Camilleri, who only began writing Montalbano in his late fifties, wrote Riccardino, the final case for the inspector, way back in 2005 but the novel was then hidden away by the publisher and more books in the series were written and published. Riccardino emerging into the light once more in 2018 for revision before returning to the secret vault. Until now – almost a year on from the author’s death on July 18th last year the story finally gets its airing.
In a typically playful moment for long term fans Camilleri gives himself a cameo in the book berating Montalbano over the phone for not investigating the murder of Riccardino rigourously enough (titbit courtesy of the Guardian). As for any other details, I’m sure we’d all rather wait and look forward to The Sicilian Method in October and then… The Chef at the Alcyon… And then… Riccardino.


The Redemption of Charm Frank Westworth
Killing Sisters Book 3
This is my first venture into the world of the killing sisters and, pleasingly, there’s more to this book than I was anticipating. The violence, and for that matter the sex, is pretty graphic, satisfying for anyone Jonesing for a blood fest, but there are long periods of thoughtful plotting and character exploration here too. This is not just an action thriller, it’s a decent story of broken, villainous and marginalised characters clashing in a violent world.
It took a while to figure out how I felt about The Redemption of Charm and to get comfortable with the style. Chapter one had me torn between the pleasurable anticipation of impending violence and getting to grips with the fragmented writing. Westworth likes word play, which is fun, but he also likes disconcerting the reader. There’s method here though: the anti-anti-hero, JJ Stoner, is a mess, a busted up man, his head’s in pieces, he’s come from hell and even the tranquillity and isolation of rural America retreat can’t patch him up without the natural curative of time. The writing reflects JJ Stoner’s battered mental state, disorientation and loneliness. He’s got a story to tell but it’s scrambled in his own mind, it’s got to be teased out.
So JJ Stoner is damaged and dangerous, ex-black ops, an experienced soldier and killer; but, is he a powder keg or a burn out? His last operation was a cluster-fuck of betrayal. JJ is a bit like another JJ, Joey Jones, (Jason Statham), in The Hummingbird (2013). Of course, JJ here is short for Jean-Jacques an illustrious name handed down from a philosopher via a punk rock legend to a tempestuous killer.
August this year, deepest America; three local guys are soaking up the beer and chewing the fat, it’s a nice evening but for the gunshots that keep cracking in the distance. That’d be JJ who has already worked through twelve magazines. Joshua, the local law, already checked this Brit guy out, the Feebs say hands off, he’s ok, he’s on our side but he’s dangerous, don’t spook him. Next day JJ calls into the sheriff’s office for a chat. JJ tells sheriff Joshua that he’s just here to rest up, if people leave him alone there’ll be no trouble. Rather than put his mind at rest the sheriff is more afraid of JJ and what he might bring by the end of their pleasant little chat. JJ actually arrived the September before, found himself a shack to shack up in, looking to heal. By October Associate Deputy Director Travis turned up, he thinks JJ could be useful to the US, along as he can ditch the Brit loyalty, then he can stay.
So what’s JJ’s story? There’s this guy, Mr Hartmann, known as Hardman, he set up an operation, set JJ to catch an assassin. Only Hardman was controlling the assassin, JJ was the one supposed to die. Then Hardman could forget the past, the link to JJ, and get on with his stellar career. JJ began figuring stuff out though, Hardman was sleeping with his girl, Lissa, (it didn’t end well for her), JJ confronted Hardman, big mistake he didn’t kill him. It’s unfinished business but can JJ get it together well enough to fight the fight.

Liking JJ is tough, he’s totally fucked up and even on his best day he’s got a mean/mad streak in him – an anti-anti-hero. The slow burn element of the novel surprised me but the long set ups and contemplative moments add to the fun. Cross, double cross, revenge, a heavy touch of tongue in cheek humour and sex. If I’m honest this novel is a little overlong but it is entertaining and capable to throwing up a surprise or two.

The Book Guild Ltd, paperback, 2017. ISBN: 9781911320555


Barry Forshaw, Maxim Jakubowski and Paul Burke discuss the crime fiction of 2020. Best books so far, ones to watch out for. 8.00pm Thursday, 30th July. What are your picks? Join the debate on Crowdcast, just follow the link below:


No Exit Press million selling crime fiction favourite Leigh Russell launches her new novel Deadly Revenge on 23rd July. Leigh talks to Paul Burke about the new book on Crowdcast video interview 8.15pm. We’d love you to join us, maybe you’re have a question? Click the link to join us:

Press Release

Theakston highlights to include Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Ian Rankin

Jul 2, 2020

Harrogate International Festivals unveils its world-class virtual HIF Weekender line-up featuring performances and interviews with best-selling authors, internationally acclaimed musicians, and innovative thinkers. Running from 23-26 July, this cultural celebration coincides with what would have been the legendary long weekend of Harrogate’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, part of the Festival’s cancelled summer season.

Theakston highlights include crime writing royalty Lee Child in conversation with Joseph Finder, Ian Rankin interviewed by NJ Cooper, Mark Billingham celebrating 20 years of Tom Thorne and Val McDermid presenting the genre’s ‘New Blood’ rising stars Deepa Anappara, Jessica Moor, Elizabeth Kay and Trevor Wood, alongside the virtual crowning of the coveted Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 – plus Steve Mosby will be joined by AA DhandEmma Kavanagh and Amanda Jennings to explore writing in the age of pandemic, and Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste are set to present a virtual version of their popular podcast Two Crime Writers & A Microphone for the weekend. There will be Berwins Salon North talks from Adam Rutherford, Claudia Hammond and Lewis Dartnell; and a stellar series of interviews across the cultural mix including composer Ben Palmer, theatre Maker Stella Duffy, newsreader and presenter John Suchet and author Anthony Horowitz.