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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Hunting Season

Andrea Camilleri

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To purchase Hunting Season

Title: Hunting Season
Author: Andrea Camilleri
Genre: Novel
Written: 1992 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 148 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: Hunting Season - US
Hunting Season - UK
Hunting Season - Canada
Hunting Season - India
La saison de la chasse - France
Jagdsaison - Deutschland
La stagione della caccia - Italia
La temporada de caza - España
  • Italian title: La stagione della caccia
  • Translated by Stephen Sartarelli

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Our Assessment:

B : somewhat awkwardly plotted/paced, but fairly amusing

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 24/2/2014 .
Wall Street Journal . 21/3/2014 Tom Nolan

  From the Reviews:
  • "(T)his bawdy little gem from the author of the Inspector Montalbano series shares a theme with the Alex Guinness movie classic Kind Hearts and Coronets and possesses a wit that Boccaccio would have appreciated." - Publishers Weekly

  • "(R)ibald, grotesque, entertaining and every so often moving" - Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Hunting Season is a novel Andrea Camilleri wrote before he began his incredibly successful Inspector Montalbano-series, and it was his first major success (though apparently not successful enough for any US/UK publisher to publish it in translation for over two decades ...). A stand-alone set in the late-nineteenth century, it is, however, also set in Montalbano-territory, in the fictional Sicilian port town of Vigàta.
       The novel begins in 1880, with the return of Alfonso "Fofò" La Matina to Vigàta. His arrival is shrouded in some mystery, as he travels under an assumed name and doesn't reveal his identity immediately, but soon enough he has set up shop as a pharmacist and admits to being Fofò, the son of the murdered Santo La Matina ("who had a magic garden in a secret place"). Apparently he was worried that those who murdered his father many years earlier might also still have it in for him -- but that turns out not to be an issue. Still, unnatural and unusual deaths soon start cropping up at regular (and far too frequent) intervals.
       The deaths all occur in and around the family of the very wealthy Marchese Don Filippo, beginning with that of his father and soon followed by that of his son. Don Filippo also has a daughter, Antonietta ('Ntontò), who is saving herself for an appropriate husband. With his wife, Donna Matilde, losing her mind after the death of their son, Don Filippo strays elsewhere -- and hopes to sire another son (illegitimately, but then to be legitimized through adoption).
       Trusted Fofò occasionally dispenses advice (and remedies) but on the whole remains rather aloof -- unlike many of the locals, who seem to like nothing more than to meddle. Much of the appeal of the novel is in the strong characters and their clashes -- especially the ones with a no-nonsense attitude trying to deal with all the local nonsense. Meanwhile, the clergy still plays a significant role, but not everyone is on board with their program. Wealthy relatives from America also help stir things up (and try to straighten things out -- with mixed (and inevitably deadly) results).
       People take matters into their own hands -- moving a body so as (to try) not to arouse suspicion, or seducing someone are par for the course -- but even the best intentions often go awry. It almost seems as if the family around 'Ntontò were cursed -- though given their different characters (and willfulness) it's hard to pinpoint what exactly might be behind it all. It turns out there is method behind all the madness -- even a neat sense of order to the deaths -- but Camilleri obscures it a bit too much -- and has too much fun with the idiosyncrasies and outlandish behavior of his large cast of characters -- for the novel to really work as a murder mystery.
       Hunting Season is quite good fun, and various scenes, episodes, and confrontations are amusing and well-conceived. The whole is a bit of a mess, shifting focus far too often (with a feeling that Camilleri is not so much leading readers on as he is leading them astray), and while the resolution is satisfying enough it doesn't follow quite as neatly from the story as it could; it almost feels like another ending could just as easily be substituted for it.
       A bit too muddled, but certainly enjoyable enough.

- M.A.Orthofer, 2 March 2014

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Hunting Season: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Popular Italian author Andrea Camilleri was born in 1925.

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© 2014 the complete review

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