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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start of Zen series
Zen is in many ways a classic fictional dectective - middle aged, a loner, problems with relationships and authority. The Italy described is realistic, even in some of the later novels that are more ironic and playful. The characters are more memorable than is usual in dectective stories; suspects appear to have lives beyond their involvement in the events. As with many...
Published on 19 May 2006 by Genly Ai

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not quite as good as I thought it would be.
I was a little disappointed in the writer's portrayal of Zen.
I thought Zen would have had a stronger strength of character.
This is not to say I did not enjoy reading it.
Published 1 month ago by glynis booth


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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start of Zen series, 19 May 2006
This review is from: Ratking (Zen) (Paperback)
Zen is in many ways a classic fictional dectective - middle aged, a loner, problems with relationships and authority. The Italy described is realistic, even in some of the later novels that are more ironic and playful. The characters are more memorable than is usual in dectective stories; suspects appear to have lives beyond their involvement in the events. As with many of the best crime writers, there is always a sense of things just out of vision, matters involving the rich and powerful that are handled in other ways. Not in a 'conspiracy theory' sense, the matters may be more squalid and banal than dangerous, but just because they know people. These are excellent books all round.

Although it is not really necessary to read the novels in order, doing so gives a much better understanding of Zen's evolving relationships with women, family, friends and employers as well as the changing political and cultural landscape of modern Italy.

Ratking unravels the dense knot of relationships binding members of a wealthy family in Perugia where Zen is sent to investigate a kidnapping. He quickly gets lost both in the labrynthine streets of the old city and the lies that the family tell to him and to one another.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Detective & His Country, 23 Aug 2011
By 
Michael Field "Mikes Headroom" (Somewhere in England) - See all my reviews
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When I watched the TV version of Zen, I thought that it perfectly captured both the feeling of Italy and the understated personality of the man.

It is, though, deliberately different from the books.

On the page, Zen is noticeably less suave and the delivery a little less glib than on the screen. To the credit of Rufus Sewell, this doesn't necessarily make his portrayal of Zen any less convincing. In both the book and on TV, the sepia cast of Italy's less romantic side is equally brilliant.

Having read Cabal as well as Ratking, I think the Zen novels get better as they go along. Dibdin has a direct style but insists on taking you through both the cynical but sure-instincted motivation of the detective while carrying forward a plot which is equivocal yet forceful.

It is probably difficult to concentrate on if you don't have much time but very rewarding when you become immersed in it. On that basis, the further you get into the series, the more rewarding it will get and I certainly intend to try. Thoroughly recommended.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man can do no wrong, 17 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Ratking (Zen) (Paperback)
I usually steer away from books which are described as "another novel featuring ............." but not this series. Aurelio Zen has a stupid name but is probably the most realistic policeman you'll find. He's no angel but he gets the job done. All the books featuring Aurelio Zen are a great read, easy to get into, thrilling from the start and a central character whom one grows to love.Basically, read anything you can get your hands on by Michael Dibdin, you won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ratking, 23 April 2011
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Mr. D. Mellalieu "Mr Mell" (England, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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I was drawn to this book as I enjoyed the "Zen" tv series. The book is only vaguely similar to the tv version and I enjoyed reading it. I have visited Rome on several occasions and can feel the athmosphere and the temperament of the Italian people trough this book. A Very Good Read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the series, 20 Jan 2013
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A. C. Howard (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ratking (Kindle Edition)
I first became aware of the Zen police stories through the 3 part televison series and wanted to see what the original stories were like.
"Ratking" is the first in the collection and whilst there are similarities, the books (as usaul) provide a far more rounded and in depth analysis of the main charcters and the story in general.
I will admit to picturing Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen whilst reading, but this didn't spoil the story, if anything, his slightly hang-dog, world weary stoicism helped me picture the worlld he was inhabiting.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about Zen and the machinations of Italian politics and how it affects the policeman's daily lot.
Off to buy the next in the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great story by Michael Dibdin, 18 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Ratking (Kindle Edition)
This book will appeal to all lovers do quirky characters. Paints a great picture of Italians and the way they think. It's a very good read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ratking, 14 Jun 2012
By 
Ragnar - See all my reviews
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This is the first in the series of novels featuring Aurelio Zen, a detective from Venice who, in the course of his career, investigates crimes in many parts of Italy. Here, although he is living in Rome at the time, he is sent to Perugia to investigate the kidnapping of a rich business man, Ruggiero Miletti.

The main focus of the plot appears to be fierce internal rivalries within the Miletti family, several of whom leave almost everything to be desired. Despite many obstacles, Zen eventually figures out why and by whom the kidnapped man is murdered shortly after his release by the kidnappers.

But just as important in this book is the portrayal of Italian society - for example, the pressures brought to bear by the rich on those who might stand in their way, or the jobs-for-life regime prevailing in the Italian public sector. And also, as in the United States, the self-interested moves made by certain public prosecutors. In this society nothing is straightforward and few things are as they seem.

The book is unusual in that it begins with a series of dialogues, but it sets a high standard in the quality of its writing which Dibden was to maintain in later books.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matryoshka Mystery, 22 Feb 2003
By 
taking a rest - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ratking (Zen) (Paperback)
Instead of those wooden dolls that nest one inside the other, Michael Dibdin creates a story line, which offers not only a variety of possible solutions, but also an unknown number of suspects and motives. And just like the dolls I mention, until you open the final one, you don't know how many there are, or what finally lies in the nest's core.

I have read the bookends of the Aurelio Zen series by this talented author, firstly his newest "Blood Rain", and the inaugural book in the series "Ratking". Although I cannot yet comment on the installments that reside between these two books, unlike some ongoing character based novels, the last was as good as the first.

One of Mr. Dibdin's great talents is his ability to sustain the unknown, or the uncertainty of the solution to his books to the very end. He does not use crude blind alleys or other cliché slights of hand with his pen, rather he brings the reader along with Aurelio, seeing what he sees, but not limiting the reader to only what the Inspector may feel. There is no blatant misdirection, which by definition fools no one; Mr. Dibdin is much more subtle. In, "Ratking", he constructs a Gordian Knot, of rat tails/tales, and unlike the Ratking the book describes, he unravels his construct with a self deprecating flair.
Unlike other authors he does not throw open a curtain and hope for the expected gasp, he entertains throughout his work. His novels are wonderfully complete, and amazingly brief. His stories are not based on one clever thought that is then pulled and stretched to novel length. His stories are finished, and written with a disciplined hand.

This author has no need for gimmicks; he is a master with a pen, a wordsmith of the first order.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RatkingFirst came across Aurelio Zen on television and very much enjoyed the experience and in the same way discovered Inspector, 23 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Ratking (Kindle Edition)
First came across Aurelio Zen on television and very much enjoyed the experience and in the same way discovered Inspector Montalbano. When I noticed Inspector Montalbano was published on Kindle I snapped-up all the available stories and very quickly read the lot in no time, which left a bit of hole in my reading needs. What next, Zen seemed a handy option but I have to say, whilst enjoyable not up to Montalbano quality of characterisation and plot-line.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Detective writer, 28 Feb 2011
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Having seen the Zen episodes on the BBC and enjoyed them enormously I did a little bit of detective work myself and found out that Michael Dibdin had written about eleven books in the Zen theme.I have purchased four of these and found them to be an extremely enjoyable read and would recommend them 100%.Thanks to Amazon for the very speedy delivery'
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