The site where the body had been found was within the territory of the provincia di Catania, and hence under the jurisdiction of the authorities of that city. So far, so good. From a bureaucratic point of view, however, the crucial factor was where and when the crime - if indeed it was a crime - had occurred. As all those concerned were soon to learn, none of these points was susceptible of a quick or easy answer.
Zen finally receives the order he has been dreading all his professional life: his next posting to Sicily.
The gruesome discovery of an unidentified, decomposed corpse sealed in a railway wagon marks the beginning of Zen's most difficult and dangerous murder case. Set against the backdrop of Catania, in the shadow of the smouldering volcano of Etna, Blood Rain is a riveting tale of violence and murder, which reveals Aurelio Zen at his most desperate and driven.
If you enjoyed the Inspector Zen Mystery series you may also like The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, another crime novel by Michael Dibdin.
The cynical Venetian inspector fears that his employers view his growing older as a liability when, in this seventh, involving Aurelio Zen mystery (after A Long Finish), they assign him to a lowly post within the Interior Ministry of Rome. Sent to Sicily to gather information on the Direzione Investigativa AntiMafia (or DIA, the Anti-Mafia squad), Zen can barely muster the interest to care about his apparent demotion. This case, however, proves to be the aging detective's most dangerous assignment yet, uniting him with a daughter he didn't know he had: Carla Arduini, who's stationed in Sicily as a DIA computer consultant and who proves a comforting companion in the course of Zen's investigation. After the decomposing corpse of a Limina crime-family member is found in an abandoned train car in Catania, Zen learns that Sicilians like to deliver their crucial messages through multi-entendres and murder. No one can be trusted, not even the DIA, and Zen is forced to rely solely on his own instincts, no matter how paranoid he may seem, if he wants to solve more than one murder and live to see the next day. Though Dibdin missteps when he devotes a significant portion of the novel to building and then abruptly dropping a major character, his manifold gifts as a storyteller are in evidence here, affirming his expertise in the genre.