The Shape of Water is called a novel of food, wine, and homicide in small town Sicily. Published in Italian in 1994 by Andrea Camilleri, it was translated into English in 2002.
It was refreshing to read about a detective who quickly plans a meal of pasta with garlic and olive oil for an acquaintance who drops in unexpectedly. I’m more used to American or British authors who seem to think that not knowing how to boil water makes a male character appealing. As a corollary to being culinarily challenged, these heroes tend to live in squalor, surrounded by old take-out food containers. How could anyone fail to be charmed? Unfortunately, there was much more homicide than food and wine in this book. It would have been interesting to hear more about what the Sicilians eat and how they prepare it.
The plot is convoluted, involving many local big-shots, most of them corrupt. Corrupt authorities are generally treated with great seriousness in the mysteries I read, but Camilleri’s Sicilians are so used to it that it’s become one big joke. It’s the rare honest public servant who is treated seriously.