Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Always an erudite crime writer, Dibdin places complex characters into exacting plot puzzles that unfold in evocative prose rich in historical and geographic color. In the fifth case (the last was Cabal) featuring his Italian policeman Aurelio Zen, the sleuth leaves Rome for his native Venice to trace the disappearance of a wealthy businessman. While visiting the haunts of his youth and stirring fleeting memories (the name of a boyhood friend raises ``a host of remembered images... like a flock of disturbed pigeons''), Zen meets old men who confuse him with his father, who vanished mysteriously long ago. On an island used for mass burials, someone thinks he sees a vision, and a bag of heroin is misplaced. A new right-wing party is seizing power in the city, and Zen has the misfortune to fall for the estranged wife of the party leader. An old friend of his mother's, who's convinced that costumed ``Swamp-dwellers'' are invading her house, is far from credible, having been long judged unbalanced for a tale she tells of a missing daughter. Zen trails many lost people through twisting generations and winding waterways to face answers to questions he did not ask. Dibdin's mysteries are as nonlinear as the streets and canals of Venice; his prose is literate and seductive. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Aurelio Zen is back in his hometown of Venice, ostensibly seconded there to investigate crazy old Contessa Ada Zulian's insistent accusations that her palazzo is haunted. But he's really trying to pick up some lire under the table from the money managers of missing American Ivan Durridge, who'd love to get him certified officially dead or, if necessary, returned to them alive, so that they can get on with spreading his fortune around. A missing American is nothing new for the Venetian questurino, of course, but there's been no ransom demand, and Zen gets interested in the mystery almost despite himself. In the meantime, though, the case of la Contessa's ghosts comes to a head inconveniently when she's almost fatally wounded and a police stakeout flushes two guilty- looking suspects. His work apparently finished, Zen, who's made enemies from the corrupt head of the Drugs Squad to the rabble- rousing mayoral candidate of the Nuovo Repubblica Venetia, faces the summary revocation of his transfer, even though he still hasn't resolved the case of the missing Durridge, the much older mystery he's discovered surrounding the wartime disappearance of la Contessa's daughter--or his own affair with Cristina Morosini, the candidate's wife. Zen (Cabal, 1993, etc.) is sharp as ever in dealing with sneering Venetian lowlifes and bent Venetian cops, and it isn't his fault that this masterfully atmospheric tale winds down, like so many of Zen's adventures, to a bittersweet epilogue that will make most readers wish Zen could have stayed on the case forever. (Author tour)
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.