“This is a murder mystery covered in delicious Venetian icing.”

Dead Lagoon
by Michael Dibdin

“When the man in white appeared, blocking his path, Giancomo felt a brief surge of relief at the thought that he was no longer alone. Then he remembered where he was, and terror rose in his throat like vomit. He forced himself to look again. The figure was still there, splayed across a mass of brambles, the panels of its jacket rippling and heaving as though in the wind. But there was no wind. Then he saw the face, what was left of it…”

So begins Michael Dibdin‘s fourth installment of the Aurelio Zen murder mystery series. In this new mystery, Zen returns to his native Venice, searching for a missing American millionaire and encountering an assortment of corpses – including a suspiciously new skeleton that surfaces on the Isle of the Dead. Under false pretenses, Zen navigates his way through the Venetian police system like a sleek topa winding through a maze of Venetian canals. Against a backdrop of political corruption and espionage, Zen treats us to a local’s view of Venice – its smoky grappa bars and dreary cafes – in a dramatic contrast to the grand palazzos and glamorous facades of the tourist trade.

This is a murder mystery covered in delicious Venetian icing. A pure joy to read, and once complete, it will only persuade you to acquire more of Dibdin’s Zen mystery series. Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen is an eccentric, loner detective, and this is a classic series of well-plotted detective yarns. However, Dibdin is as interested in the country as he is in his characters, and these novels tell us plenty about the way Italian society operates. A supremely palatable way to read about Italy and Italians.

Michael Dibdin was born in 1947, and attended schools in Scotland and Ireland and universities in England and Canada. He lives in Seattle, is married to the writer Katherine Beck, and reviews regularly for the Sunday Times.

(Editor’s Note: Author Michael Dibdin died in March 2007)

-March 2000