Fresh from the successful investigation of a series of crimes in Naples, that admirably devious and dour Italian police inspector Aurelio Zen returns to his office in Rome to discover that a new set of bureaucrats is in power--with plans to punish him for his success by sending to him Sicily to fight the Mafia. Fate, in the form of a powerful film director, offers a way out: Zen is to go instead to Piedmont, where the murder of a noted winemaker--apparently by his son and heir--threatens the future of one of the film director's favorite vintages. Even though Zen is a Venetian by birth and drinks "fruity, fresh vino sfuso
from the Friuli intended to be consumed within the year" as the director sarcastically notes, he can still see how important the case can be to his future--especially if it keeps him away from deadly Sicily. Not only wine but also truffles are involved in a growing series of murders in the area around Alba, and Michael Dibdin (an English writer who lives in Seattle but must spend lots of time in Italy) once again manages to capture the heart, soul, and stomach of the region. Zen, whose personal life is gradually revealed and expanded in each book in the series, finds out several surprising things about being a father in this one. Previous Zen encounters: Cosi Fan Tutti
, Dead Lagoon
. --Dick Adler
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
Family truths and family lies, as gnarled and hidden as prized local truffles, beat at the heart of the newest case for Italian police inspector Aurelio Zen, last seen in Cosi Fan Tutti (1997). Sent in early fall from Rome to the Piedmont to determine who killed a local vintner in time to save the dead man's vintage, Zen is out of his realm in many ways. He doesn't know the language of wine or wine making, nor is he privy to the generations-old secrets that may lie behind the mutilation and murder of wealthy, unpopular Aldo Vincenzo, whose DOC Barbaresco is the best wine of the region. In jail, but only for a while, is the victim's son, Manlio, who fought loudly with his father the evening before the body was discovered. The subsequent deaths of a local truffle hunter and another vintner provide clues, but Zen's course is twisted, complicated further by his continuing distress over his girlfriend's recent abortion, by anonymous phone calls he receives at odd locations, by unexpected bouts of somnambulism and by the intimations of a local hashish-smoking, harpsichord-playing physician that the policeman harbors a deep-seated psychological problem. Even so, Zen is a masterful investigator, who steps well beyond the bounds of accepted interrogation to ferret out the decades-old relationships of love and deep resentment that surface in the current sequence of murders. The path to his ultimate success in this layered case is, as usual, pure pleasure for Dibdin's readers.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the