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on 29 August 2014
I've read chronologically through the Zen series. You really need to as reference is often made to the past. I've enjoyed everyone and for anyone with a passion for Italy and crime will enjoy it too. I did feel Aurelio did not feature as strongly as in previous novels with more emphasis on the five central characters. Still be patient as it works up to all the characters coming together for the finale. With just one more book left to read and the sad demise of Michael Dibdin I shall miss Zen but I'm glad I have read and enjoyed his adventures.
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on 14 May 2013
Had high expectations! The writing style left me cold. Location and scene setting did not do justice to the area and as such got in the way of the story telling. Characterisation was weak, left one apathetic about the protagonists as well as the lead character. The disjointed story line breaks up the narative and rather than keeping the page turning is a good excuse to put the book down. This style of writing is much better managed by others of the genre. I would read another title, but only to see if this book is a one off aberation.
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on 23 September 2012
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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on 9 August 2005
As an avid reader of crime series set in Italy, I eagerly await the next work by the pillars of the genre--Donna Leon, Magdalen Nabb, and Michael Dibdin. Both Leon with BLOOD FROM A STONE and Nabb with THE INNOCENT have delivered top-notch novels in their continuing series this year. Unfortunately, Dibdin fell short with BACK TO BOLOGNA. As is often the case with Dibdin, we have to deal more with the Zen's continuing personal and relationship problems than the crime and its solution. Zen's really a mess this time around. His Lucca-based girlfriend, Gemma Santini, from book #8 is fed up and wants to dump him.
Dibdin's new novel is not a mystery or a thriller. However, it is a very cleverly written spoof of the genre and quite comedic. I found it disappointing and not up to par with many of his other Aurelio Zen works.
He starts the book with the introduction of a massive cast of characters on an eventual collision course with each other. His leading characters are a flashy singing TV chef named Romano Rinaldi and a University of Bologna semiotics professor named Edgardo Ugo (as in Umberto Eco). To further the spoof, he names Zen's contact officer at the Bologna questura Salvatore Brunetti. (For you affectionatos--Salvatore is the first name of Nabb's Marshal and Brunetti is the last name of Leon's beloved Venetian Commissario.) Then further on in the book, he introduces a Carabinieri major named Guido Guaranaccia. (Again, for you affectionatos--Guido is the first name of Leon's Commissario and Guaranaccia is the last name of Nabb's Marshal.) Just how far is Dibdin willing to go to get a laugh?
I found the ending predictable with no suspense at all. Dibdin also missed the opportunity to give us a keen insight into the fantastic city of Bologna. He failed miserably in this regard. His descriptions were nothing compared to John Grisham's wonderful portrayal of Bologna in THE BROKER.
If you like comedy relief, this book is for you. It's cleverly written and very funny--but not serious enough for my taste.
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on 9 April 2013
If you like Dibdin's Zen then you'll like this one too, but the structure of the book is far from the usual police procedural. For much of the book, vignettes featuring minor characters criss-cross apparently without relevance; it's only when the professor is talking aobut deconstructed novels that you realise that this is one, too, and you start to look for the jokes. After that, it's a joy!
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on 19 July 2014
Police investigator Aurelio Zen reluctantly becomes involved in a case which interrupts his recovery from a previous shooting. A mad series of events ensue, involving a TV chef who can't actually cook and is in disguise, a spiteful student and his friend with an East European girlfriend and also Zens own dissatisfied girlfriend, Delia. Enjoyable and complex, as usual.
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on 8 May 2012
Yet another Zen tale, well crafted and evocative of yet another dimension of Italy, its people, its culture and its way of living and dying. Best enjoyed when the sun is out and with some decent coffee available and, if you are still addicted, a few Camel's [my former choice] to burn. If you want to know how I feel about other matters, go to my blog : [...]
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on 25 May 2006
I guess the previous reviewers are looking for blood and sensation when they decide to read an "Italian Mystery". Most likely, they just don't understand the real Italian soul. Dibdin does, and his latest novel is an excellent illustration of this. The plot reads as an Italian opera, the characters are as Italian as an espresso coffee, and the absence of real action reminds me of my time spend in Italy (both as a tourist and for work). I have to admit that Dibdin counts on some intellectual snobbism amidst his readers, but it is so obvious that it makes you smile. This book, as most other Dibdins, is not written for the lovers of crime and death, but for the connoisseurs of live. Absolutely recommended for readers that know the difference between the kitsch of a Beaujolais nouveau and the joy of a Barolo
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on 19 July 2015
Zen is once again sent off to Bologna, this time leaving behind his failing relationship in Lucca. In his haphazard way he and an old colleague start to make headway. A very good cast of characters.
June Finnigan - Writer
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on 18 September 2014
For fans of Michael Dibdin this is one of the best Zen mysteries. Very funny and perceptive on Italian society. Michael Dibdin;s Zen books are the top of the pile in detective fiction
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