Table of Contents
Praise for Andrea Camilleri and the Montalbano series
“The idiosyncratic Montalbano is totally endearing.”
The New York Times
“Camilleri is as crafty and charming a writer as his protagonist is an investigator.”—
The Washington Post
“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 outburst, fumbles, or threats are made only in the name of pursuing truth.”—
“Once again, violence is muted, complications rule, politics roil, but humor . . . prevail[s] in the end. Italy is good to visit, even if only in print. And what better way to shorten a flight to Palermo than by gobbling this tasty snack along the way?”—
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 strets.”—
“The Montalbano mysteries offer
to the world-lit lover hankering for a whodunit.”—
The Village Voice
“The reading of these little gems is fast and fun every step of the way.”—
The New York Sun
“Wittily translated from the savory Italian, Camilleri’s mysteries . . . feature the sardonic Inspector Salvo Montalbano, whose gustatory adventures are at least as much fun as his crime solving.”
Rocky Mountain News
“In Sicily, where people do things as they please, Inspector Montalbano is a bona fide folk hero.”
The New York Times Book Review
Also by Andrea Camilleri
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
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A PENGUIN MYSTERY
THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX
Andrea Camilleri is the author of many books, including his Montalbano series, which has been adapted for Italian television and translated into nine languages. He lives in Rome.
Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator and the author of three books of poetry, most recently
The Open Vault
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in Penguin Books 2009
Translation copyright © Stephen Sartarelli, 2009
All rights reserved
Originally published in Italian as
Le ali della sfinge
by Sellerio Editore, Palermo.
Copyright © 2006 Sellerio Editore.
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, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
[Ali della sfinge. English]
The wings of the Sphinx / Andrea Camilleri ; translated [from the Italian] by Stephen Sartarelli.
p. cm.—(A Penguin mystery)
eISBN : 978-1-101-15962-0
1. Montalbano, Salvo (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—Italy—Fiction. 3. Murder—
Investigation—Fiction. 4. Human trafficking victims—Fiction. 5. Catholic Church—
Charities—Fiction. I. Sartarelli, Stephen, 1954- II. Title.
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means
without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only
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of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
What ever happened to those early mornings when, upon awakening, for no reason, he would feel a sort of current of pure happiness running through him?
It wasn’t the fact that the day was starting out cloudless and windless and the sun shining bright. No, it was a different sensation, one that had nothing to do with his meteoropathic nature. If he had to explain, it was like feeling in harmony with all of creation, perfectly synchronized with a great stellar clock precisely positioned in space, at the very point that had been destined for him since birth.
Bullshit? Fantasy? Maybe.
But the indisputable fact was that he used to have this feeling rather often, whereas now, for the last few years, it was so long, nice knowing you. Gone. Vanished. In fact, nowadays early mornings very often inspired a feeling of refusal in him, a sort of instinctive rejection of what awaited him once he was forced to accept the new day, even if there were no particular hassles awaiting him in the hours ahead. And the proof of this was the way he acted upon emerging from sleep.
Now the moment he raised his eyelids, he immediately lowered them again, remaining in darkness for a few more seconds, whereas before, the moment he opened his eyes, he kept them open, even slightly agape, avidly taking in the light of day.
, he thought,
is surely because of my age
But immediately Montalbano Two rebelled against this conclusion.
Because, for a few years now, two different Montalbanos lived inside the inspector, and they were always in disagreement. The moment one of them said something, the other would assert the opposite. And indeed, as if on cue:
What’s this about your age?
said Montalbano Two.
How is it possible that, at fifty-six, you already feel old? You want to know the real truth?
said Montalbano One.
Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.You want to feel old because it suits you just fine. Since you’ve grown tired of what you are and what you do, you’ve created this excuse about getting old. But if you really feel that way, why don’t you write a nice letter of resignation right now and call it quits?
And what would I do then?
You would play the old man. Get yourself a dog to keep you company, go out in the morning to buy the newspaper, sit down on a bench, let the dog run free, and start reading the paper, beginning with the death notices.
Why the death notices?
Because whenever you read that someone your age has just died while you’re still fairly alive, you’ll feel a certain satisfaction that’ll help you hang around for at least another twenty-four hours. An hour later—
An hour later you and your dogs can go fuck yourselves
, said Montalbano One, chilled by the prospect.
Well, then, get up, go to work, and stop being a pain in the ass,
Montalbano Two concluded decisively.
While he was in the shower the telephone rang. He went to answer it completely naked, leaving a stream of water in his wake. Adelina, in any case, would be by later to clean house.
“Chief, whadd I do, wake y’up?”
“No, Cat, I was awake.”
“You sure sure sure ’bout that, Chief ? Yer not jess sayin’ ’at to be nice?”
“No, you needn’t worry. What is it?”
“Chief, what else could it be if I’m callin’ you foist ting in the morning?”
“Cat, do you realize that you never call to give me any good news?”
There was a pause, and then Catarella’s voice became all choked up.
“Ah Chief Chief ! Whyddya say that? You wanna humili tate me? If it was up to me, I’d wake you up every single mornin’ wit’ rilly good news, like, I dunno, like you jess won tirty billions inna lattery, or like you was jess made chief o’ police, or . . .”