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The Smell of the Night

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The number of Inspector Montalbano fans will continue to grow with this ingenious new novel featuring the earthy and urbane Sicilian detective. Half the retirees in Vigáta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a The number of Inspector Montalbano fans will continue to grow with this ingenious new novel featuring the earthy and urbane Sicilian detective. Half the retirees in Vigáta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a hostile superior has shut him out of the case, he’s on the outs with his lover Livia, and his cherished Sicily is turning so ruthless and vulgar that Montalbano wonders if any part of it is worth saving. Drenched with atmosphere, crackling with wit, The Smell of the Night is Camilleri at his most addictive.


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The number of Inspector Montalbano fans will continue to grow with this ingenious new novel featuring the earthy and urbane Sicilian detective. Half the retirees in Vigáta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a The number of Inspector Montalbano fans will continue to grow with this ingenious new novel featuring the earthy and urbane Sicilian detective. Half the retirees in Vigáta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a hostile superior has shut him out of the case, he’s on the outs with his lover Livia, and his cherished Sicily is turning so ruthless and vulgar that Montalbano wonders if any part of it is worth saving. Drenched with atmosphere, crackling with wit, The Smell of the Night is Camilleri at his most addictive.

30 review for The Smell of the Night

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4* of five The Publisher Says: The number of Inspector Montalbano fans will continue to grow with this ingenious new novel featuring the earthy and urbane Sicilian detective. Half the retirees in Vigàta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a hostile superior has shut him out of the case, he’s on the outs with his lover Livia, Rating: 4* of five The Publisher Says: The number of Inspector Montalbano fans will continue to grow with this ingenious new novel featuring the earthy and urbane Sicilian detective. Half the retirees in Vigàta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a hostile superior has shut him out of the case, he’s on the outs with his lover Livia, and his cherished Sicily is turning so ruthless and vulgar that Montalbano wonders if any part of it is worth saving. Drenched with atmosphere, crackling with wit, The Smell of the Night is Camilleri at his most addictive. My Review: Salvo Montalbano and the Vigàta police force have a strange case, one that's not their case and not particularly important seeming as the Common Knowledge has already given it an ending: A Ponzi-scheme swindler comes home to Vigàta after being away most of his life, seemingly to answer the greediest prayers of the Vigatese by providing huge returns on the investment of their life savings. One fine day, he fails to appear and disburse the income due, and is never seen again. A major investigation by Montalbano's wretchedly political and horrifically petty bosses has led to the conclusion that Mr. Ponzi's follower was offed by the Mafia, either for taking the wrong widow's life savings or plowing fields they felt were their own. After getting involved due to a ludicrous hostage standoff, Montalbano can't help but keep worrying at the threads not in their proper places. In the end, to no one's surprise, the Ponzi schemer is found dead, but not where, or how, anyone could have expected at the beginning of the case. I am on record as a fan of the series, and I've given plenty of reasons I feel the books are superior. But one idea has occurred in multiple places and from multiple sources: These books reek, to some, of the corruption and wickedness that mysteries, as distinct from thrillers or noirs, seek to combat. Montalbano doesn't shy away from rule-breaking, he flirts with and even goes far afield with some of the beauteous women Camilleri clearly thinks we all want to read about; his world contains those who aren't morally upright but are valued friends. Yeah, so? As does your own life, nine bets in ten. Camilleri's character is flawed, and knows this about himself, but he's always motivated by the need to fix things and help people and make the world run right, even if it means breaking rules and going outside the system. I don't sense that this is a problem in other cop-centered series. I have wondered why that seems off-putting in this series. I think it's because the Mafia is invoked so often, and that makes Americans very tense. It's very much a part of our national conversation even yet, and has entered English as a term of opprobrium for any group or team that's opposed to your own. (I treasure a mention of the Bush Mafia made in Austin's newspaper, later retracted and apologized for. THAT was a good day!) It's all I can figure, anyway. I am so NOT in love with the current fashion for Scandinavian crime writers that I think I may have reacted histaminically by heading for Sicily. Something more exciting, please, no reserved and tortured souls trying to make amends for their misdeeds, thank you. And as these books don't have revolting, violent depictions of things I don't want to think about (yes, that's Lisbeth in my crosshairs), perhaps the ghoul crowd isn't tempted in. Taste being inarguable, granted, I still wonder at the reason for uninterest or dislike that I've seen mention far more than once. Guess that's why there'll always be chocolate and vanilla.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Simona B

    If something about this series does get lost in the translation into tv series (which I love), it's the books' intertextuality and Montalbano's own love and knowledge of literature. Each of these books (and the short stories as well) contains myriad references about some work of literature that he loves, reread, stumbles into during the investigation, or uses as a key to unlock the mystery he is working on. I love that and I'm a bit sad that those who know only the tv series don't know this side If something about this series does get lost in the translation into tv series (which I love), it's the books' intertextuality and Montalbano's own love and knowledge of literature. Each of these books (and the short stories as well) contains myriad references about some work of literature that he loves, reread, stumbles into during the investigation, or uses as a key to unlock the mystery he is working on. I love that and I'm a bit sad that those who know only the tv series don't know this side of our beloved commissario.

  3. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    So I was joking to a friend the other week about how I was going to try and get into Italian crime fiction. After all, I said, this fashion for gruesome stuff from Scandinavia can’t go on for other, other countries/regions will have to have their turn and as such I could try to get to the front of the queue on the next trend. Then, a few days later, I saw that BBC4 were broadcasting a documentary about the new wave of Italian crime writers and I realised this was yet another bus I’d missed. Anywa So I was joking to a friend the other week about how I was going to try and get into Italian crime fiction. After all, I said, this fashion for gruesome stuff from Scandinavia can’t go on for other, other countries/regions will have to have their turn and as such I could try to get to the front of the queue on the next trend. Then, a few days later, I saw that BBC4 were broadcasting a documentary about the new wave of Italian crime writers and I realised this was yet another bus I’d missed. Anyway I watched the documentary and this brings me to: ‘The Scent of the Night’ by Andrea Camilleri. Sometimes when you review novels translated from other languages, you wonder whether you’re reviewing the work itself or the translation. For example, some of the prose is pretty pedestrian in this, but is that the fault of Camilleri, or is it some scribe who has not made the effort to properly render some colourful Italian descriptions? Similarly, the menial characters in this book seem to speak in a very cod ‘itsa lika this’ style Italian. That’s a bit distracting as everyone else’s dialogue is in normal English, and then someone arrives who seems to be doing a Joe Dolce impression. But again, who should I blame for that? The plot is diverting enough and the style is very gossipy (certainly more so than all that stuff pumped out of Sweden), while Montalbano – our hero detective – is an intriguing and interesting character. But in the end this is a moderately diverting read, rather than a gripping one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    One of my favorite mystery series. A con artist runs a financial scheme that might have gotten him killed by the Mafia...leaving his loyal secretary behind to deal with an entire island's worth of angry retirees. Inspector Montalbano inestigates...even though it's not his case. Perfect. One of my favorite mystery series. A con artist runs a financial scheme that might have gotten him killed by the Mafia...leaving his loyal secretary behind to deal with an entire island's worth of angry retirees. Inspector Montalbano inestigates...even though it's not his case. Perfect.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    A wonderful comment that I cannot make, and you will understand.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Highton

    Montalbano pursues a case which is not really his, although Aguello in his team has played a supporting role - a financier and one of his staff are both missing after a major scam is uncovered. Montalbano's unique style of well-fed investigation gets him to discover a startling and personally emotional ending. I really enjoy these books set in a fictional Sicilian town. Montalbano pursues a case which is not really his, although Aguello in his team has played a supporting role - a financier and one of his staff are both missing after a major scam is uncovered. Montalbano's unique style of well-fed investigation gets him to discover a startling and personally emotional ending. I really enjoy these books set in a fictional Sicilian town.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    continuing to deliver the inspector montalbano brand essence which is: - constant, horny thoughts about seafood - answering the question "what if Elmore Leonard was weirder and italian and slightly more literary" this one gets wild when montalbano's beloved, possibly clairvoyant olive tree gets chopped down by a guy building a condo ("new construction" is a glorious b-plot antagonist emerging in the last few of these). (also montalbano commits legit and hilarious property crimes to secure vengeance continuing to deliver the inspector montalbano brand essence which is: - constant, horny thoughts about seafood - answering the question "what if Elmore Leonard was weirder and italian and slightly more literary" this one gets wild when montalbano's beloved, possibly clairvoyant olive tree gets chopped down by a guy building a condo ("new construction" is a glorious b-plot antagonist emerging in the last few of these). (also montalbano commits legit and hilarious property crimes to secure vengeance for his tree) anyway the condo builder turns out to tie into this emerging plot about a bernie madoff type swindler, and then you can pretty much run the tape of the shtick from there. some unfortunate and backwards-looking ideas about women get thrown around but it's not like camelleri paints the male characters as less flawed and captive to bad ideas. this was written by like an 80 year old guy 20 some years ago. there is also curveball where the denouement involves montalbano hallucinating that he is living inside the william faulkner short story "a rose for emily" all of these get 4 stars because they are wonderful and brainy but also dumb when needed and blessedly short

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    Finished this afternoon. Enjoyable story of financial crime. Based in part on William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. Plus, Maldonado goes off the deep end a couple of times. Maybe he was having mid-life crises. Not sure when it takes place but Camilleri makes it clear that he is my age. Finished this afternoon. Enjoyable story of financial crime. Based in part on William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. Plus, Maldonado goes off the deep end a couple of times. Maybe he was having mid-life crises. Not sure when it takes place but Camilleri makes it clear that he is my age.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Pascale

    This is competent, moderately enjoyable genre fiction, nothing more, nothing less. Quite a lot of space is devoted to the inspector himself, and the important relationships in his life, with his girlfriend, a boy he nearly adopted and is still fond of, and of course, his colleagues. That's all good fun, but as a result the plot itself sometimes seems to receive only perfunctory attention from the author. It starts rather brutally with an aged man losing his marbles because he's been swindled out This is competent, moderately enjoyable genre fiction, nothing more, nothing less. Quite a lot of space is devoted to the inspector himself, and the important relationships in his life, with his girlfriend, a boy he nearly adopted and is still fond of, and of course, his colleagues. That's all good fun, but as a result the plot itself sometimes seems to receive only perfunctory attention from the author. It starts rather brutally with an aged man losing his marbles because he's been swindled out of his life savings, but afterwards the impact of the scam on the community gets scant attention. I took this with me on my first trip to Sicily, but was disappointed at how little it told me about the country.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Spencer

    Camilleri’s writing is effortless and enjoyable. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Montalbano series so far and this is no exception. What struck me most, was the deeply empathetic and human side of the Inspector that was shown in this novel. I admit that the plot line surrounding a financial adviser isn’t my favourite of the series. But the endings is one I will certainly remember most!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Definitely one of my favourite procedural series, along with Longmire, even though both the detectives and the authors are from very different worlds.

  12. 4 out of 5

    M.J. Johnson

    Another highly enjoyable dose of Montalbano!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Five bright stars. I love the way Camilleri develops the relationships between Montalbano, Fazio, Mimi. And each secondary character is distinct in their own idiosyncrasies. From book to book we understand Salvo more and more. And, of course Camilleri takes us just far enough down the rabbit hole of plot before our hero solves the case. I am loving the food, too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristīne

    At first I couldn't really get into the book, as it somehow didn't really catch my attention but as the story progressed I was really hooked. and that final plot twist at the end, I really didn't see that coming. wow. At first I couldn't really get into the book, as it somehow didn't really catch my attention but as the story progressed I was really hooked. and that final plot twist at the end, I really didn't see that coming. wow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liisa

    What a wonderful book! Reading a Camilleri mystery is so much fun--it's like sitting somewhere and people watching, only the people being watched are interesting and funny. Kudos to Sartorelli, as well, for his wonderful translations. This was an immensely enjoyable read! What a wonderful book! Reading a Camilleri mystery is so much fun--it's like sitting somewhere and people watching, only the people being watched are interesting and funny. Kudos to Sartorelli, as well, for his wonderful translations. This was an immensely enjoyable read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Usual good read, a tantalising glimpse into Montalbano's soul (without being over dramatic). Usual good read, a tantalising glimpse into Montalbano's soul (without being over dramatic).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jane Withers

    Another little gem in the series !

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ray LaManna

    Another good tale from Camilleri...beutifully written with a good analysis of the mind of a demented person.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Another enjoyable Camilleri mystery. This one touches all the personal plot points from earlier books, such as the girlfriend, the nearly adopted son, the food,… We also find Montalbano, angry at the loss of a favorite olive tree, committing some serious vandalism to a house being built (including some strangely out of place and not further mentioned Disney statuary). Nice to see again that he’s human. The audio has the various policemen narrated in comic, “New Yark” accents that work better in Another enjoyable Camilleri mystery. This one touches all the personal plot points from earlier books, such as the girlfriend, the nearly adopted son, the food,… We also find Montalbano, angry at the loss of a favorite olive tree, committing some serious vandalism to a house being built (including some strangely out of place and not further mentioned Disney statuary). Nice to see again that he’s human. The audio has the various policemen narrated in comic, “New Yark” accents that work better in cartoons. The extra “comic relief” the voices provided were not appreciated by me. I think the story stands well without the 40s movie wise guy talk.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Montalbano investigates the disappearance of a man who ran off with a lot of people's money and his sidekick in this installment. The detective finds himself in the plot of a William Faulkner short story. Overall I found this installment less enjoyable than many in the series even though I enjoy literary play. I continue to enjoy Grover Gardner's wonderful narration of the series. Montalbano investigates the disappearance of a man who ran off with a lot of people's money and his sidekick in this installment. The detective finds himself in the plot of a William Faulkner short story. Overall I found this installment less enjoyable than many in the series even though I enjoy literary play. I continue to enjoy Grover Gardner's wonderful narration of the series.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A large part of the attraction of these novels is the wonderfully grumpy, slightly eccentric, marvellously self-involved Inspector Montalbano. And the food - the meals that Montalbano insists on partaking on a regular basis are frankly, almost obscenely fantastic. Of course, for the books to be completely satisfactory there has actually got to be a story, and as with all these books, the story here is superbly Italian in its feel. The financier Emanuele Gargano has disappeared - as has a large a A large part of the attraction of these novels is the wonderfully grumpy, slightly eccentric, marvellously self-involved Inspector Montalbano. And the food - the meals that Montalbano insists on partaking on a regular basis are frankly, almost obscenely fantastic. Of course, for the books to be completely satisfactory there has actually got to be a story, and as with all these books, the story here is superbly Italian in its feel. The financier Emanuele Gargano has disappeared - as has a large amount of money that a lot of local retirees invested with him. An investigation had been undertaken but it seems to have gone nowhere. Everyone seems to be resigned to the idea that the Mafia have dealt with a problem. It's not until one elderly local man finds the news that his money has gone too much for him, and starts waving a gun around, that Montalbano's interest is sparked. The standard of the initial missing persons investigation doesn't impress Montalbano. But his reopening of the search occurs at a time when Montalbano is questioning his own life in his own way. His ongoing long distance love affair with Livia is getting more fraught, for Montalbano in particular. His housekeeper taking a couple of days off causes him all sorts of personal upset (despite her arranging a replacement), and it just doesn't seem to take much at all to tip him over into rage these days. None of this being helped by a confrontation with the Commissioner over accusations of impropriety. Basically Montalbano is grumpy. Very very grumpy. Even though the main concentration of these books is Montalbano there is an ensemble cast that reoccurs in all books. Whilst it may help to understand everyone to have read earlier books in the series, each story can stand on its own. The tone is, however, very Italian, very biting, and you just can't emphasis how grumpy Montalbano can get. But everyone is in their own way, fantastic, and involving, and the books are like trips to the sunny beaches and trattorias of beautiful Sicily. You can smell the food he eats, you can see the tables settings. You can feel the sun, the wind, the rain. You can hear the shouting, the arguing, see the smiling faces. If you've not read an Inspector Montalbano series then I really can't recommend them highly enough. If you're lucky enough to have access to Australian SBS Television they recently played an all too short series of TV movies based on the books that were very very well done as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gisela Hafezparast

    A book like a holiday in Sicily. Beautiful and everything you expect, but I suspect nothing like the real life of living and policing in this beautiful part of the world. Enjoyable quick read when you really want to relax.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This one will send you off to re-read William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. Another obsessive relationship is front and center but you do not realize until the end how it relates to the mystery at hand. Emanuele Gargano is a magnetic personality to equal the likes of Berlusconi or Madoff but his swindling, orchestrated through his investment company King Midas of Bologna (!!!), involves bilking ordinary Sicilians out of their savings. His disappearance begins the unraveling of several nefarious sc This one will send you off to re-read William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. Another obsessive relationship is front and center but you do not realize until the end how it relates to the mystery at hand. Emanuele Gargano is a magnetic personality to equal the likes of Berlusconi or Madoff but his swindling, orchestrated through his investment company King Midas of Bologna (!!!), involves bilking ordinary Sicilians out of their savings. His disappearance begins the unraveling of several nefarious schemes. Montalbano also tries a new trattoria where he orders "burning pirciati" and is moved to ask himself "Is there such a thing as extreme cuisine, like extreme sex?" And I am LOVING the guy for the way he reacts to the hideous new villa with its set of yard dwarves, the building of which has caused the uprooting of the great Saracen olive tree which has been his mental and emotional refuge. "The tree itself had been deeply wounded by an ax...Montalbano realized he was weeping, sniffing up the mucus that kept dripping out of his nose, breathing in starts the way little children do...He lifted his hand from the wound and tore off a few leaves...He put them in his pocket. Then his tears gave way to a kind of lucid, controlled rage."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I really enjoy the Inspector Montalbano series, and this one doesn't disappoint. I found more humor in this than the other books in the series that I've read. Inspector Montalbano is called to the scene of a possible hostage situation. An elderly man is holding a secretary at gunpoint until ragioniere Garbano comes back and returns the money he supposedly invested for him. A crowd gathers outside, all angry investors wanting their money back. Needless to say, Garbano scammed them all of their mon I really enjoy the Inspector Montalbano series, and this one doesn't disappoint. I found more humor in this than the other books in the series that I've read. Inspector Montalbano is called to the scene of a possible hostage situation. An elderly man is holding a secretary at gunpoint until ragioniere Garbano comes back and returns the money he supposedly invested for him. A crowd gathers outside, all angry investors wanting their money back. Needless to say, Garbano scammed them all of their money and disappeared, leaving his secretary to hold down the fort. While Inspector Montalbano and his team are investigating the missing Garbano, he has the additional aggravation of finding his favorite olive tree cut down to make way for the construction of a house, another missing person, and his Commissioner convinced that he has kidnapped a young boy and stolen some money from a previous case. A very enjoyable quick read with a surprising finish

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary Helene

    I love how Camilleri is playing with us - "such things happen only in 2nd rate mystery novels." He plays with a TV script as well, and then, chillingly, with a plot line he says is from William Faulkner. (Another GoodReads review says it's A Rose for Emily.) Our dear detective is getting ready to retire, I think. His girlfriend reminds him that the concepts are no longer as important as the relationships. I love how Camilleri is playing with us - "such things happen only in 2nd rate mystery novels." He plays with a TV script as well, and then, chillingly, with a plot line he says is from William Faulkner. (Another GoodReads review says it's A Rose for Emily.) Our dear detective is getting ready to retire, I think. His girlfriend reminds him that the concepts are no longer as important as the relationships.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rlygirl

    This was an enjoyable read but it wasn't one of the best books in the Montalbanno series for me personally. Although we still had the main cast and some new quirky characters I didn't feel as engaged in this murder mystery. Some humor in here though, such as the whole situation with Salvo ruining a sweater his girlfriend got for him and trying to hide it around the house. I will still read the next book in this series to see how things progress. This was an enjoyable read but it wasn't one of the best books in the Montalbanno series for me personally. Although we still had the main cast and some new quirky characters I didn't feel as engaged in this murder mystery. Some humor in here though, such as the whole situation with Salvo ruining a sweater his girlfriend got for him and trying to hide it around the house. I will still read the next book in this series to see how things progress.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A slim volume, read in an afternoon in the garden, watching the bees on the lavender. Really not sure about the translation.... reads like the subtitles on the TV series. I did wonder whether the book or the TV came first. Both have a warm bath sort of feel but this book is a bit darker somehow with Montelbano more of an oddball maverick than he is allowed to be on TV.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Inspector Montalbano investigates an intricate financial scam which has left many retirees in Sicily penniless. Another great book in this series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Fantastico! This series is just terrific.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eastendleo

    Warning! Much spoilers. Violence. Bad authorial choices. Rating this novel was difficult. I veered sharply from one star "did not like it." to four star " really liked it." The upper range was due to the enjoyment of a cast of familiar and entertaining characters and their interactions, the falling into place of pieces of the puzzle regarding the disappearance of an investment financier, and more about the personal life of Inspector Montalbano. Not to mention the mention of food throughout. But... Warning! Much spoilers. Violence. Bad authorial choices. Rating this novel was difficult. I veered sharply from one star "did not like it." to four star " really liked it." The upper range was due to the enjoyment of a cast of familiar and entertaining characters and their interactions, the falling into place of pieces of the puzzle regarding the disappearance of an investment financier, and more about the personal life of Inspector Montalbano. Not to mention the mention of food throughout. But... my heart sank at the revelation the financier was gay, as was his young assistant. Don't get me wrong! I believe every author should be able to utilize the murderous homosexual cliche in their writing. But unless they work really really hard to freshen it up, it remains an overused turd of a revelation. And Camilleri doesn't put in the work to make this new in any way. I did have a flash of hope that it was all a misdirection and further clues would send this off in a new direction, or that it would only be part of something more interesting. But, no, aggravatingly, it was just what it was. The book had two further low points. First, I think (I don't really know) it is the case that dialect can be indicated in written Italian. But here, the translation for the local dialect just portrays the speaker as simple bumpkins. It didn't sit well with me. The lowest of the low points however, was the Inspector sexually assaulting a young woman. I mean, she totally had it coming, with her straining bra less bosom, exposed thighs and cock teasing sparkling eyes. but. BUT FUCK IT. Montalbano is a bit of a dick in his life, and it's a fine line between making him real and interesting, and just abhorrent. This was the latter. What, next it will be revealed and we'll be expected to accept, that he beats his girlfriend Livia? She does, after all, exhibit strong signs of being pretty independent. Might want to curb that, big guy. Not a strong entry in the Inspector Montalbano series.

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