From time to time, I like to throw in an "extra" review or two here on the blog, often of a book that - for whatever reason - doesn't fit neatly into the pattern of a classic or traditional mystery.
I think that applies to The Shape of Water, by Andrea Camilleri, the first in his very successful series of books about Sicilian Inspector Salvo Montalbano. It is more police procedural (and a very good one) than puzzle, but its primary appeal to me is in its characters, especially that of Inspector Montalbano, a smart, shrewd investigator with a taste for fine food. The book was first published in Italy in 1994, and the translation, by Stephen Sartarelli, first appeared in the U.S. in 2002.
In The Shape of Water, Montalbano must investigate the death of a local celebrity in the town of Vigata. The victim is found dead, with his pants around his knees, in an area commonly used by local prostitutes (and quite well-known to the police, who appear to make a tidy sum by looking the other way). The man's death appears to be from natural causes, but there is something about it that leads Inspector Montalbano to believe that it's not as simple as it appears. In fact, much of the crime scene, and the "facts" surrounding it, appear to have been staged in order to provide a convenient - and false - explanation for the victim's death.
There is a fair amount of action here, and some interesting police procedure. There's also a well-crafted view of some of the corruption and graft that seems to make up a surprisingly large part of the local culture in Vigata. As a procedural, we really don't learn much of the truth until Montalbano and his investigators have uncovered surprise witnesses and the like - in other words, it isn't really in the "fair play" or puzzle tradition. But it is, I think, a wonderful mystery, with a memorable protagonist in Inspector Montalbano, and I can see why the series is very popular today.
A word of warning: there's quite a bit of explicit sexual description here because it makes up a key element of the plot. If you don't enjoy that kind of description, you may be a bit uncomfortable at places. But it is a powerful and necessary part of the book.
And without saying more, let me commend to you the title of the book, for the mystery here does, in large part, depend on it.