So I have been cruising the Aurelio Zen crime series in July, 11 stories in
total and not in chronical order. Reaching the last pages of the finale,
"End Games," I am sure I will re-visit.
It was an education in Italian cultures, less touting or flattering than tourist
guides and nonetheless ringing more accurate. The tales took me up and down the
- Ratking (1989) - Perugia
- Vendetta (1991) - Sardinia
- Cabal (1992) - Rome/Vatican/Milan
- Dead Lagoon (1994) - Venice
- Cosi Fan Tutti (1996) - Naples
- A Long Finish (1998) - Alba
- Blood Rain (1999) - Cantania/Sicily
- And Then You Die (2002) - Lucca
- Medusa (2003) - Verona/Milan
- Back to Bologna (2005) - Bologna
- End Games (2007) - Cosenza
each a lesson of unique geography, history, habits, and sometimes cuisine. In
the end, I preferred the books to an actual tour.
My reading was interrupted by a perusal of Stephen King's On Writing where the
horror master revealed his craft. Coming back to Dibdin, I noticed right away
his thrift with adverbs and his choice of colorful words.
I have heard that behind every novelist is a moralist. In the last 20 years
before dying at 60, Dibdin had a lot to offer. Here are just a few quotes that moved me.
Three weeks flirting, three months loving, three years squabbling, thirty
years making do, and then the kids start again. --Medusa
Every woman is Medusa. When you look into her eyes, you see the entire
history of the human race. That's enough to turn anyone to stone. --Medusa
All'Ombra delle Spade. He had lived there all his life, but what did they
know of such things, these infantile adults in their quilted acrylic jackets
and two-tone designer sports shoes? He tried not to despise them, although
he knew that they would despise him. They were rather to be pitied. Yes, get
the latest-style clothing, the latest mobile phone, the most powerful motor
bike, the most fashionable pedigree dog. Get it all, if you can! It won't
make you happy, but it may eventually bring you what you least desire but
most need: the knowledge that happiness is an illusion. --Medusa
Zen took her by the arm, which felt alarmingly fragile. Widowed by the war,
his mother had affronted the world alone on his behalf, wresting concessions
from tradesmen and bureaucrats, labouring at menial jobs to eke out her
pension, cooking, cleaning, sewing, mending, and making do, tirelessly and
ingeniously hollowing out and shoring up a space for her son to grow up in.
Small wonder, he thought, that the effort had reduced her to this pittance
of a person, scared of noises and the dark, with no interest in anything but
the television serials she watched, whose plots and characters were
gradually becoming confused in her mind. Such motherhood as she had known
was like those industrial jobs that leave workers crippled and broken, the
only difference being that there was no one mothers could sue for damages.
He of all people should have realized that police work never took any
account of individual abilities. It was a question of carrying out certain
procedures, that was all. Occasionally these procedures resulted in crimes
being solved, but that was incidental to their real purpose, which was to
maintain or adjust the balance of power within the organisation itself. The
result was a continual shuffling and fidgeting, a ceaseless and frenetic
activity which was easy to mistake for purposeful action. ... All he needed
to do to keep everyone happy was just to get through the motions. --Vendetta
The plots, thrilling as they are, are really the carrier of the author's truth
learnt through life.