Aurelio Zen was dead to the world. Under the next umbrella, a few desirable metres closer to the sea, Massimo Rutelli was just dead.
Inspector Zen is back, but nobody's supposed to know it. After months in hospital recovering from a bomb attack on his car, he is lying low under a false name at a beach resort on the Tuscan coast, waiting to testify in an imminent anti-Mafia trial. But when an alarming number of people are dropping dead around him, it seems just a matter of time before the Mafia manages to finish the job it bungled months before on a lonely Sicilian road. The pleasant monotony of resort life is cut short as Zen finds himself transported to a remote and strange world far from home...and wherever he goes, trouble follows.
If you enjoyed the Inspector Zen Mystery series you may also like The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, another crime novel by Michael Dibdin.
In Dibdin's eighth diverting mystery to feature Aurelio Zen of Rome's elite Criminalpol unit, the hard-to-kill detective is still recuperating from his last adventure, Blood Rain (2000), which left him with a collapsed lung, broken ribs and various minor injuries. Zen has been given a new identity and use of a beachfront home in Versilia, a Tuscan coast resort town, while he awaits the beginning of a Mafia trial in America a trial where he's supposed to be a surprise, and key, witness. Dibdin's wry humor is perfect for Zen's diffident approach as he stirs himself to rejoin the living, even attempting a casual beach flirtation. Zen's enforced idleness chafes, then evaporates as people too near him begin to die and the new strategies developed to conceal him seem to have (almost) fatal flaws. Dislocations and relocations send Zen to a prison island and then on an abortive journey to America with an unexpected and comical detour. More than one terrible fate may be in store for Zen even if he survives the repeated attempts on his life: being forced to retire or shunted off into some harmless bureaucratic niche to molder away. This is a slight, but enjoyable morsel of a book easily devoured but with subtle flavorings that linger pleasurably. Zen's casual demeanor masks a shrewd mind, one that readers should enjoy seeing return to action. FYI:Dibdin is also the author of seven mystery novels, includingThe Last Sherlock Holmes Story, not part of the Aurelio Zen series.