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A Long Finish Paperback – February 29, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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, Ratking, Vendetta. --Dick Adler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375704019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704017
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on August 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
In addition to all the wonderful reasons that make Michael Dibdin a pleasure to read, "A Long Finish", adds content for the gourmet. The wines of Alba and the "white diamonds" as the local whites truffles are reverently called, are components of a mystery that exposes another of the unconventional Italian priorities that Aurelio Zen constantly confronts.
The question of whether a Father was murdered by his Son is of little concern to those who pull the strings that bring Aurelio to Alba. The Son must be released, as only he can bring in the grapes that create the wine so desperately desired by a prominent Italian and many others. To devotees of wine I mean no offense, but the descriptions offered at a wine tasting often make for great humor. "Nice bouquet, great legs, fingers and thighs a bit weak, but they are buttressed by a boisterous bosom. A fruity opening, a woody polyester transition, and finally a finish that is crisp yet smooth with a suggestion of cinnamon, the barest hint of the citric, and finally dishwater".
Why has a top crime investigator from Rome been brought, because "he appears to be intelligent, devious and effective, compromised by only a regrettable tendency to insist on a conventional conception of morality at certain crucial moments". So with that career making resume material in hand, "Dottore" is off to get the grapes bottled.
This really is one of the best in the series, the only installment I have yet to read is "Cabal" and if it meets this performance the collection of writing is nearly perfect. The story has all the murders so unique, the guilty, the innocent, the guilty that wish they were, and all the rest of the maze that Mr. Dibdin is rightfully noted for.
He also can really describe wine unlike my feeble attempt.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Since Michael Dibdin is one of my favorite writers, I expected excellence and was not disappointed. Combines with dark humor, a twisted story and facinating background on Italy's wine industry. Dibdin's writing style is beautiful; his descriptive narrative is the essence of every writing teachers' favorite saying: "Don't tell us - SHOW us".
Two warnings: as he often does, Dibdin starts the book with a purposely opaque and confusing first chapter which is clarified as the story unfolds. Also, I found the book to be far more violent than his past works. Still eagerly awaiting Zen's next assignment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Davis on February 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Mr. Dibdin has done it again! The Aurelio Zen mysteries are taking us all over Italy. From Perugia in "Ratking", Sardinia in "Vendetta", Rome in "Cabal", Venice in "Dead Lagoon", Naples in "Cosi Fan Tutti" and now Alba in "A Long Finish". I think these books keep getting better and better. Aurelio Zen is my favorite detective. Keep 'em coming Mr. Dibdin!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on November 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
In 1944 Beppe Gallizio, aged 15, was stationed on the road from Alba to Acqui in the Piedmont with a simple-minded soldier called Angelin to watch for any passing fascisti. Just before dying in an ambush, Angelin dug up a truffle in a nearby field.

After the war, Beppe returned to the place and his secret hoard of white truffles allowed him to make a good living until Aldo Vincenzo decided to put up a barbed wire around his property to protect his vineyard since his wine was slowly acquiring a reputation.

Then the prices for la trifola went through the roof and the truffle became to be known as the "white diamond" so Beppe had to take extra precaution in order that his annual harvesting remained secret. But one night a man saw Beppe in the dark and his dog Anna barked at him...

When Dottor Aurelio Zen is summoned to the Palazzo Torozzo, house of a famous director called "Giulio", Aldo Vincenzo is dead and his son Manlio is in prison, accused of having murdered his father. Since Giulio is an eager wine collector and this year's harvest at the Vincenzo estate is likely to be one of the greatest of the century, Giulio has arranged with the Ministry of the Interior for Zen to be sent to the gloomy city of Alba in order to release Manlio Vincenzo from prison in time to make the wine this year! And that is going to be far less easy than Zen had anticipated...

Another sympathetic glance at Italy by Michael Dibdin, this time allowing the reader to cast a glance at the secrets of winemaking.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diana Faillace Von Behren TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After partially digesting some extremely personal revelations revealed during his stay in Naples, Aurelio Zen still finds himself reeling. To top it off, he finds that after his headlining success in exposing the menacing presence behind the 'Clean Streets' campaiagn in Naples, he is to be shuffled down to Sicily as part of a new Anti-Mafia squad. Only the influence of a rich film director who after hearing of the murder of his favorite vintner cannot bear the thought of the famous wine not being produced that year simply because the only man who can accomplish this feat is being held for his father's murder. Zen's task then takes him to Asti in the Piedmont where as he attempts to accomplish his assignment--the release of the vintner's son--he stumbles upon a sequence of murders with roots in the past which he must ferret out with the tenacity of the region's truffle dogs. As usual Zen's methods are not always ethical; his determination to get the job done does not always insure that the guilty person is punished by the proper channels--although serendipitiously Zen manages to justify his means with a noble ending. Nevertheless, his exploits in this installment are so far the most satisfying of the series. Zen's sonambulism in the beginning of the novel emphasizes his distraught over the goings-on in Naples--think Al Pacino sleeplessly squinting in 'Insomnia'---which are compounded by equally stressful information imparted by a mysterious young lady. Dibdin's portrayal of Mignot, one of the truffle hunters, utterly stuns with a skin-crawling realism. Dibdin expertly mixes a lethal cocktail of greed and madness to create a wonderful melange of men whose livings thrive on the bounty of the earth, one way or another. Highly recommended.
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