Dibdin was born in Wolverhampton in , the son of a Cambridge physicist and a nurse. The influence of Conan Doyle showed in his first crime fiction, published in the early s while he taught English at the university of Perugia. The novel, in spite of its strong period detail, remains a donnish caper. To my knowledge, Dibdin was the first British novelist to show us the dark side of modern Italy. The Italy of the Zen books is a country whose time has passed. Behind the roseate flush of its postwar prosperity lies a corruption, where justice may not prevail. Blood Rain , the seventh Zen title, documented the loan-sharking and citrus-fruit scams of the Sicilian mafia, and described the organisation as an international drugs cartel that murdered with ease.
As well as readable thrillers, the Zen books are social primers, which chart the politics, manners and especially cuisine of Mediterranean family life. The book contained marvellous descriptions of Bolognese food often poisoned , together with mandarin appreciations of parmesan cheese.
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His Naples is a picture of decay, teeming with barefoot immigrants from Senegal and sallow ghouls in search of a heroin fix. End Games, published posthumously, is the last Aurelio Zen saga, bringing the total of Zen books to This time, Inspector Zen has been summoned to the Calabrian backwater of Cosenza, to investigate an especially nasty murder. When priceless artefacts are stolen from the National Museum in Reggio Calabria, Zen is persuaded to link the two crimes.
Fans of the saturnine detective may be disappointed to know that Zen is no longer a high-flying Criminapol agent. Instead, he has become a broken-down depressive, unhappy in marriage, who crunches peppermint Tic Tacs. He needs all the help he can get. In the prosperous north of Italy, southerners are reckoned a dishonest lot. Accordingly, the Venetian inspector is caught up in shady, mafia-style crimes and targeted by a gallery of gangland cuties.
Throughout, Dibdin gleefully mocks Mezzogiorno celebrity culture — the film personalities, trumpery intellectuals and other tawdry figures who orbit southern Italian public life. End Games, in short, has all the bite of vintage Zen; I wish we could have more. Charles Day. James Kirkup. Ross Clark. Robert Peston. James Forsyth.
Brendan O'Neill. Isabel Hardman. Rupert Darwall. Steven Fielding. End Games Michael Dibdin. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — End Games by Michael Dibdin. To make matters more complicated, a group of dangerous strangers, led by a rich, single-minded American have arrived to uncover When an advance scout for an American film company disappears, Aurelio Zen's most recent assignment in remote Calabria becomes anything but routine. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published January 16th by Pantheon first published More Details Original Title. Aurelio Zen Aurelio Zen. Calabria Italy. Hammett Prize Nominee Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about End Games , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. This book is about bullying. Coming from the gut. I totally agree with you, Martha. This book is about Calabria. I was raised in the dark shadow of the brutal nature of existence there. This even though my father was born here and I have most certainly not pu This book is about bullying. This even though my father was born here and I have most certainly not put one foot onto the soil of my ancestors.
This even though my father disowned his family when I was about six years old, so except for tiny memories, I only know the fear of the fear, not the fear itself. I think that is why of all the things in the world one might get upset about, bullying distresses me in the extreme. They are willing to pretend that the niceness has no connection to the rest. You get your way. They watch their father or mother yelling and screaming and doing something awful to their sibling and they do nothing. You become an adult. What then? He gets yelled and screamed at.
It deeply distresses him. Ie it is HIS fault. Now, this is a bright guy. But he is a male. He is terrified of all the threats she has ready to put into place. Divorce, financial deprivation, never seeing his kids, poisoning his friends. You can be as logical as you like about it. He has been so cowed by what is happening to him that he is no longer able to do anything other than believe what he wife feeds him. Written later…. We hope that this sort of bullying in our society is rare. But there are cultures in which it is entrenched, in which bullying is made into love so that at a personal level relationships depend upon there being a bullyer and a bullyee.
Calabria is one of them. There are cultures in which social bullying of a more public kind is also entrenched. The consequences of this in s Germany still haunt us. Calabria is a law unto itself, even now, and society is built upon the edifice of bullying. Thinking about this, about the fact that at some point Calabrians let this happen, I ask: Would you have kicked Jews to death in Nazi Germany? You watch somebody being yelled at in a most abusive way at a knitting group by the leader of the group.
The leader is being an unreasonable bully. Do you do this? Because, this is the point. Most people are pathetic cowards in the face of bullying. Full stop. I can see from time to time that it costs me too. So be it. This is how it goes. You were never going to do the right thing. You just pretend to yourself that you had adequate reason for being a good person who did nothing. And yes indeedy, dear readers. I got kicked out of a knitting group a few weeks ago in just these circumstances.
At some point it was just a crazy person running a knitting group and they were too fucking pathetic to do anything about it. View 1 comment. This is the last of Dibdin's detective novels that were as much a tour of Italy as stories of crime, old vs. This one is set in Calabria, where Dibdin's pensive, sometimes even depressed, Venetian detective Aurelio Zen tries to get to the bottom of the murder of an American who was ostensibly scouting locations for a film. As usual, a long history of grudges and resentment plays into the seemingly senseless de This is the last of Dibdin's detective novels that were as much a tour of Italy as stories of crime, old vs.
As usual, a long history of grudges and resentment plays into the seemingly senseless death. There are two primary villains in "End Games," the better one not the Italian killer but the Vietnamese-American "fixer" who works for the front operation of the film company. It seems like a missed opportunity of several kinds--story, acting, scenery--that no one has made a movie of any of these books.
Zen comes across as less gloomy and curmudgeonly than in most of the other books, his chief complaint being the Calabrian cuisine, everything drowned in tomato sauce. Dibdin died in , but in spite of the title, I don't believe he was intentionally writing a last book. Still, the end is the end. Buona notte, Aurelio Zen.
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Crime novelist Dibdin dies at 60
You'll be missed. View all 5 comments. Oct 31, Brick rated it it was amazing Shelves: locationmysteries , political-mystery. The last book in a wonderful series. Last it would seem because of the author's untimely death, not because of his intention to end the character. In this series we are able to enjoy and participate in the career of the protagonist, as he progresses thru an at times comically haphazard progression of promotions within the Questura. Aureilo Zen is somewhat akin to Harry Flashman, in that he is often an anti-hero, interested in keeping a low profile, enjoying the pleasures of food, wine, locale, a The last book in a wonderful series.
Aureilo Zen is somewhat akin to Harry Flashman, in that he is often an anti-hero, interested in keeping a low profile, enjoying the pleasures of food, wine, locale, and sometimes women. And he is often credited with a level of sophistication of intent and accomplishment that is well beyond what he himself had in mind. With a great deal of irony, in this the last of the series, Aureilio is unhappily immersed in Calabria, where the food is not to his taste, without much contact with his wife, and his first intent to keep a low profile and serve out his tour of duty is thwarted by the arousal of his personal ire at an instance of the perennial Calabrian occupation of kidnapping.
As a result Zen uses the very substantial resources of the Questura to completely defeat the primary villans, the sadistic local drug czar and boss who has committed a brutal murder that starts the book, and also the childhood friend of the boss, a totally venal fixer who sets up the kidnapping.
Finally, after this totally astonishing series of accomplishments, entirely driven by Aureilio Zen's desire for justice for the original kidnapping victim, Zen leaves to return to his original post, in disgrace because the entirely deserving primary villans are killed and not captured. Ironically, Zen has achieved much more than the complacent police chief for whom Zen has been a temporary replacement during the chief's recuperation from a self-inlicted gunshot wound in the foot has or will ever accomplish in the chief's entire career. A fascinating look at Calabria, the culture including the remnants of fuedalism in the s, the psychology of the people, an exciting police procedural, with the mordant wit we have grown to love and will so much miss.
The last novel in the Zen series was frankly disappointing. The book takes place in Calabria and, as with most of the other books, Dibdin does a good job of painting the character of the region and its people. Zen is in a fairly pro-active and effective mode, and we see less of his personal life than we have in most of the previous stories.
Where the book falls down, however, is with a number of the key villians. Perhaps I'm out of touch, but I find a character and a middle-aged one at that se The last novel in the Zen series was frankly disappointing.
Perhaps I'm out of touch, but I find a character and a middle-aged one at that seriously using the word "treeware" to refer to books completely unbelievable, at least outside of the realm of futuristic science fiction. This kind of wrong note - as well as a plot that midway seems to be veering into Da Vinci Code territory - undermine what is otherwise a satisfying story.
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If you've read Zen this far, then you'll want to finish, but End Games is a disappointing end to the series. Oct 22, Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it Shelves: crime.
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Dibdin's plot this time involves a couple of truly crazy men - the wild, game player Jake whose language and thinking processes are both stunted and almost unintelligible, and the crackhead Calabrian killer and general bad man Georgio. We also have the impassive Martin Nguyen, son of a Vietnamese torturer, a lost treasure trove, stolen antiquities, a self-idolising Italian film director, and ancestral loathings and hard life in Calabria.
In all of this is the Venetian detective, Aurelia Zen, who Dibdin's plot this time involves a couple of truly crazy men - the wild, game player Jake whose language and thinking processes are both stunted and almost unintelligible, and the crackhead Calabrian killer and general bad man Georgio. In all of this is the Venetian detective, Aurelia Zen, who ignores local rules of letting things pass without causing too much trouble to the old power structures, and sets out determinedly to solve the various mysteries thrown into the plot mix.
Zen wins through with integrity almost intact, resigned as always to the complexities of Italian bureaucracy and law enforcement. In parts the book is very funny, a major achievement in a pretty dark story, told with finesse. I will miss Michael Dibdin. Jul 19, Rhonda added it Shelves: mystery-police-procedural. I'm sorry to have begun at the end of the Aurelio Zen series, but by the time I finish reading them all in order, I'll be ready to re-read End Games. Some of Dibdin's sentences are so beautiful, I copy them into my commonplace book.
Can't say that about any other mystery writers, and I read most of the headliners. Zen is fo I'm sorry to have begun at the end of the Aurelio Zen series, but by the time I finish reading them all in order, I'll be ready to re-read End Games. Zen is for when I feel like thinking hard and keeping an eye out. He's always witty, sometimes dark, always clever. Everything does not always work out, messes made are not always cleaned up, Dibdin's stories aren't tidy--especially valuable in this genre.
Zen in Calabria. A Venetian about as far away from Venice as he can get, and having to put up with the southern food. We see some of his relationship with Gemma, and know this will never be developed as Dibdin died suddenly. So we will never know how he intended to continue with Zen, although he seemed a more settled, less hypochondriac personality in this book.
An enjoyable mystery, although not the best in the series. The ones set in Venice were the best. It's sad, that there will be no more Zen mysteries to follow. Michael Dibdin, you are missed. I know its a cliche, but would characterise the writer as a "master of suspense", able to build the story with lashings of atmospheric landscape detail, and credible insights into the vagaries of the human psyche, both good and bad.
And if I am to be a real critic, I would say there is just enough historical detail to give the reader some appreciation of how historical forces have shaped the way people are responding to t brilliant mystery novel with considerable depth in the narrative and plot. And if I am to be a real critic, I would say there is just enough historical detail to give the reader some appreciation of how historical forces have shaped the way people are responding to the challenges that life throws them, in the way of making their way in the world.
Some of the villains are just a tiny bit forgiveable.