Salvo Montalbano awakes one morning still bothered by a dream. He is in a field; there is a gate but no fence. He is dressed to ride a horse, in fact, he actually is riding the horse, something he has never done.
He “got out of bed, went to the window and threw open the shutters….And the first thing he saw was a horse, lying on its side in the sand, motionless….The horse’s hooves had left a series of tracks at the very edge of the beach, on the hard sand nearest the water, but he couldn’t see where they began.” Salvo dresses, goes down to the beach and sees that the horse has been killed brutally.
Salvo calls the station and asks Fazio, Gallo, and Galluzzo to come to his home. The four men examine the horse; no one says anything. It is a terrible act of cruelty. Gallo and Galluzzo are sent off on various missions while Montalbano and Fazio drink coffee in the kitchen, waiting for someone to come and remove the body. Before the men from the Office of Hygiene arrive, while the coffee is being enjoyed. the horse’s body disappears.
There are any number of explanations about the horse but the one they keep coming back to is the very lucrative, Mafia-controlled, illegal horse races. This will not be an easy knot to untangle. Salvo’s personal life becomes a mire when Rachele Easterman walks into his office to report the disappearance of her horse. Rachele and her horse are the guests of Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily. Rachele knows a lot about Montalbano. His almost-but-not-quite-girlfriend Ingrid is Rachele’s best friend.
When his home is broken into, Montalbano suspects that it may be friends of a criminal coming up for trial, trying to intimidate him so that he won’t testify. But when his home is broken into a second time, and his father’s watch, taken in the first burglary, is returned, Salvo has no idea who is violating his home. Searching, he can’t find anything anyone would want.
As with all the books in this series, there are moments when the reading stops and the laughing starts. There are a few of those moments in THE TRACK OF SAND. When a body is found, Montalbano listens to a report of the discovery on the television news. “And so, this time, too, the television had done his job for him, which was to convey information dressed up in details and circumstances that were either completely wrong, utterly false, or pure fantasy.” Andrea Camilleri’s books are a joy to read. A body is found, a mystery is solved, and a culprit gets what he deserves. And in between, the reader gets to enter into Montalbano’s world, a world of eccentrics, small time crooks, loyal friends, and very good food. No one can read just one.