The Terracotta Dog

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The Terracotta Dog
Theterracottadognovel.jpg
First edition (Italy)
Author Andrea Camilleri
Original title Il cane di terracotta
Translator Stephen Sartarelli
Country Italy, Sicily
Language Italian/Sicilian
Series Inspector Salvo Montalbano, #2
Genre Crime, Mystery novel
Publisher Macmillan/Picador
Publication date
1996 (orig.) & 2002 (Eng. trans. )
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 352pp (Eng. trans.)
ISBN ISBN 0-330-49291-8 (Eng. trans.)
OCLC 59278658
Preceded by The Shape Of Water
Followed by The Snack Thief

The Terracotta Dog (Il cane di terracotta) is a 1996 novel by Andrea Camilleri, translated into English in 2002 by Stephen Sartarelli. It is the second novel in the internationally popular Inspector Montalbano series.

While chasing down a mafia crime, Montalbano finds a cave with symbolic artifacts and the bodies of two young lovers, hidden since World War II.

While it was the second of the published books, the movie was actually produced by RAI out of order, two years later in 2000, as the 4th film. The story starts off with "Tano Il Greco", a tired mafia boss, making a deal with Montalbano to stage his arrest in order for him to save face. The arrest causes Montalbano to have to appear at a press conference and be considered for promotion, both of which he does not appreciate. At the same time there has also been a theft of a grocery store delivery truck and the two crimes come together with inside information from Tano that leads Montalbano and his team to search for a secret cave used as a shelter during world war two and now used by mafia arms smugglers.

Montalbano notices that the inside of the cave is not symmetrical and figures out there must be a secret room where he discovers the mummified bodies of two young lovers, carefully arranged in what appears to be some kind of ancient ritual guarded by a clay guard dog. Learning that the bodies were placed sometime around the allied invasion (sbarcare) and devastating bombing of the island at the end of World War II, Montalbano interviews local residents from that time to try to piece together who the young couple were and why they were killed and why they were ritually buried.

One thing that puzzles Montalbano as he learns more about the ritual burial is that it doesn't make sense because it is a mixture of different traditions and this leads him to look for someone who might have knowledge of different burial rites. And once he has a suspect for the person that conducted the ritual burial, Montalbano stages an elaborate ploy to get onto the TV news so that maybe his suspect living in some other part of Italy might get his message and return to the site of the crime 50 years later.