The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Death, Alzheimer’s and gays

Noel Grima Friday, 22 October 2021, 09:05 Last update: about 2 months ago

‘Waqtiet .... fl-imhabba li ma titkellimx’. Author: Salv Sammut. Publisher: Horizons / 2021. Pages: 245pp

This is the third book in the author's latest trilogy. Fortunately, as against the first two, there are no problematic political overtones.

The main actor is still the same - retired police inspector Pawlu Borg, this time doing a good job (he was too humanly weak in the first two).

The background of the story is easily told - a normal family is suddenly thrown into disarray when two of its principal components face huge problems. Then, when an unknown man is found dead at the bottom of the stairs, the situation quickly becomes tragic.


It may be only my impression but I feel the story brings out the worst aspects of the gay scene by emphasising the rampant bitchiness, the threats and indeed the violence without any counterbalance of the care and love which also exist in gay couples as exists in heterosexual couples.

On the other hand the book rightly highlights the situation of those suffering from Alzheimer's and especially the way the families are many times thrown at the deep end when they may have other problems to cope with. The book keeps insisting that people suffering from Alzheimer's cannot be kept at home but must be housed in special institutions.

The basics of the story are easily told. The family round which the story is told consists of two parents, one of which, the father, suffers from Alzheimer's, and two children - a girl who works in the financial department of the police headquarters, and a boy who, without his family knowing, is both gay and a drug abuser.

Then, as told, one day a man, who is unknown to most of the family, is found dead with a broken neck at the foot of the stairs. Somebody had just come out of the house and a car, which was not usually seen in that street, suddenly rushes away.

The police have a hard time first of all to find out who is the dead man and how he came to be inside the house. But then there are a number of red herrings to keep readers rushing on to get to the bottom of the story. 

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