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Cosi Fan Tutti: An Aurelio Zen Mystery Hardcover – April 29, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books (April 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679442723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679442721
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The career of Italian policeman Auerlio Zen has certainly had its operatic ups and downs: as a nasty colleague points out, "In Milan, you wrongfully arrest a man for the Tondelli murder, and 20 years later he tries to kill you after his release from prison. In Rome, you single-handedly 'solve' the Moro kidnapping, unfortunately too late to save the victim." So it's fitting that Michael Dibdin has used a real comic opera by Mozart and Lorenzo Daponte as the frame for his latest Zen outing. A Northern fish in Naples's polluted waters, Venetian-born Zen seems to have found the perfect job to make himself invisible, as head of the harbor police. But several tangled plots--including one that deftly turns the Daponte stew of unsuitable suitors and fake Albanians on its head--conspire to bring Auerlio into the spotlight one more time. Two of Dibdin's best Zen encounters, Ratking and Dead Lagoon, are available in paperback.

From Library Journal

Assigned to Naples, policeman Aurelio Zen takes time to assist a local wealthy widow: he refuses to let her daughters marry their supposedly Mafia-connected fiances. Soon involved in a case of murder and mistaken for Mafia himself, Zen plays out Dibdin's (Dark Spector, LJ 12/95) version of a darkly comic opera.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

This had an interesting plot, and I enjoyed the characters.
Amazon Customer
I like books where multiple plot lines converge, but here it seemed way too forced.
fryjord
The late Michael Dibdin's Zen series was one of my favorite "comfort" reads.
Blue in Washington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Da Ponte wrote a libretto for the opera the composer called "The School For Lovers". Michael Dibdin titles each chapter with a title from the libretto in Italian, and in the contents gives the English approximation. An estimate, a guess, any thought that suggests ambiguity is appropriate for this Aurelio Zen mystery, for neither the reader nor those fictional characters of "Cosi Fan Tutti" really know what is happening either.
When the protagonist in the series is reduced to thinking, "Not only was the plot slipping from his grasp, even the names of the cast appeared unfamiliar" you either are holding a great tale, or the thoughts of a writer who is in over his head. In the hands of a lesser talent this would often suggest a book that has lost direction and has resorted to rhetorical thought, as some gimmick for obscuring what is at heart a story gone amiss. But this is Michael Dibdin, and control of plot is never an issue for him.
Like a great play or opera the story arrives at its denouement, and then seemingly every player is brought together and the true and final facades are taken away. But for the Author this is not enough, for in the previous book he plants in Aurelio's mind a doubt of the worst sort, which appears to be solved at the end. A Priest leans over Zen's stricken Mother, the Confession, and then the question as to whether the Mother would like the Right of Extreme Unction. The Mother of course responds with "is there more Brandy", the "Priest" is a mature changeling of sorts, and everything you thought you knew, is twisted. All your thoughts are held up to a mirror, and they are not backward gibberish, but Michael Dibdin true plot, having once again the final resounding laughs at the reader's expense, and delight.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By NC on August 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you're expecting your traditional whodunit, this ain't it. Dibdin is definitely not a formula writer and it's impossible to know exactly what to expect when Aurelio Zen is involved. This case is a classic, It's well-written with plot lines within plot lines of which Zen, or you, may or may not be aware. It doesn't matter anyway because this book was, to put it simply, a lot of fun to read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By stewart_glickman@lecg.com on October 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
Michael Dibdin has created a wonderfully clever, witty and suspenseful crime novel. He weaves the characters together seamlessly amidst the perplexing chaos and rhythm of Naples. Anyone looking for a stylish novel with deft touches of humor need look no further.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Reading Aurelio Zen out of sequence is as sensible as the mystery in this book. And figuring out which of the several plot lines represents the mystery is half the fun. Picaresque is the only description for Zen. And the other characters! You get to meet every Italian you've ever known, with a couple of true-to-life foreigners thrown in. Truly delightful if you have a sense of humor and a taste for the absurd. A disaster if you like a lot of senseless violence and macho language in your mysteries. Aurelio Zen has a new fan in me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is the best of the Aurelio Zen mysteries. Zen is not your normal literary detective. He frequently has no more idea what is going on than the reader, and that is his charm. In Cosi Fan Tutti, Dibdin manages to write an excellent mystery, be funny and describe the normally hidden side of Naples all in one. This is a wonderful book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on June 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Michael Dibdin has written his own version of the "Cosi Fan Tutti" opera and it's well worth your while to read his novel. Prior to reading the book I spent some time reading the libretto, and I thought this would give me a better idea of what would come to pass in the story, well yes and no, decide for yourself. One thing for sure he has given it a 'modern' spin.

One thing that Dibdin (like other writers of Italian crime novels like Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon) likes to make fun of is the amount of corruption in everyday Italian life. When Zen senses that he is in trouble after the 'incident' in Rome, he decides to transfer himself to Naples before 'they' can send him to the Tyrol or Sardinia. He places himself at the head of the Harbor Precinct and then ingratiates himself with his corrupt subordinates.

Not needing to do anything to upset the applecart, Zen spends little time in his office but finds time to get involved with his landlady and her two daughters suitors. The landlady is from a 'proud' family and doesn't want her daughters to get involved by the two 'toughs' they are dating. Zen works out a deal with the Mother and daughters to prove that the two erstwhile suitors are not as dedicated to the girls as they act.

In between, Zen gets involved with tracking down a smuggling ring, a Navy Ensign who is AWOL, and a 'terrorist' group that is kidnapping well known corrupt officials and gang leaders. There are also a whole lot of personal problems that come to a crashing denouement. Once again Zen falls into the slop (this time literally) but manages to come out smelling like the proverbial rose.

Zeb Kantrowitz
zbestblogaround@blogspot.com
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're an opera fan who's a parody fan who likes mystery, this is for you. The mystery almost gets lost in the sometimes witty/sometimes not parallels between this plot and the opera of almost the same name. The detective is well-developed, but no other character is. It's amusing but not engrossing.
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