Andrea Camilleri did not want his crime series continued by another writer. He left the concluding Montalbano novel with his publisher long before his death in 2019. It is now available in the UK.
The final novel in Andrea Camilleri’s beloved Inspector Montalbano mystery series was published on Thursday. However, the late author completed the work five years ago, to prevent his detective’s story being continued after his death.
Sicilian food-loving detective
Salvo Montalbano came to life in 1994, when Andrea Camilleri was almost 70. Against a back-drop of a changing Sicily and Italy, the series follows the food-loving detective through 28 novels.
Montalbano has been translated into 32 languages and the books have sold over 65million copies worldwide. Camilleri started writing the 28th manuscript in 2004. He left it with his publishing house in Palermo on the promise it would only be published after his death. “Sherlock Holmes was recovered … but it will not be possible to recover Montalbano. In that last book, he’s really finished,” he told the Guardian in 2012.
Riccardino – 28th and final Montalbano novel
Camilleri died in 2019. Riccardino, the 28th and final novel in the Montalbano series, was published in Italy in 2020. The English-language edition was translated by Stephen Sartarelli. It sees the Inspector investigating the murder in broad daylight of a man called Riccardino who had called him that morning.
Metafictional and fourth-wall-breaking, it features interventions from “the Author” as Montalbano puzzles his way to the solution.
In an author’s note written in 2005 and included with the book, Camilleri wrote: “This is the final novel with Inspector Montalbano as its protagonist. I will not write any more in the series. I regret this, but at 80 years of age, one cannot avoid the fact that many, too many, things must come to an end.”
Camilleri revisited the novel in 2016, but said he changed nothing in the plot. However, he “did find it necessary to bring the language up to date”.
Camilleri wanted Montalbano to ‘go away’
The Guardian’s review of the novel has the translator Sartarelli recalling a trip to Rome to see Camilleri in around 2008.
“When asked how he brought it all to a close, he merely said that he didn’t want to kill his character, as others had done, and so he had him simply ‘go away’. Then one of the [booksellers] asked, ‘But if he’s still alive, aren’t you worried that, after you die, another writer might bring him back and continue his stories?’” said Sartarelli.
“To which Camilleri replied, in his typical blend of Sicilian and Italian: ‘i quello che succede dopo la mia morte, me ne stracatafotto’. This had me cracking up immediately, almost unable to provide the translation necessary for the others to get in on the fun (however untranslatable the punchline): ‘As for what happens after my death, I don’t give a flying fuck.’”
It’s now time for English readers to find out just how Montalbano’s story ends.