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DEAD LAGOON: An Aurelio Zen Mystery Hardcover – January 15, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (January 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067943349X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679433491
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this, the latest in the Aurelio Zen series, Zen is in Venice under false pretenses. He's ostensibly there to investigate the "haunting" of an old family friend, but actually, and illegally, in town to find the body--dead or alive--of the missing patriarch of a wealthy American family.

"Zen is as sharp as ever in dealing with sneering Venetian lowlifes and bent Venetian cops. This masterfully atmospheric tale...will make most readers wish he could have stayed on the case forever." --Kirkus Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Always an erudite crime writer, Dibdin places complex characters into exacting plot puzzles that unfold in evocative prose rich in historical and geographic color. In the fifth case (the last was Cabal) featuring his Italian policeman Aurelio Zen, the sleuth leaves Rome for his native Venice to trace the disappearance of a wealthy businessman. While visiting the haunts of his youth and stirring fleeting memories (the name of a boyhood friend raises "a host of remembered images... like a flock of disturbed pigeons"), Zen meets old men who confuse him with his father, who vanished mysteriously long ago. On an island used for mass burials, someone thinks he sees a vision, and a bag of heroin is misplaced. A new right-wing party is seizing power in the city, and Zen has the misfortune to fall for the estranged wife of the party leader. An old friend of his mother's, who's convinced that costumed "Swamp-dwellers" are invading her house, is far from credible, having been long judged unbalanced for a tale she tells of a missing daughter. Zen trails many lost people through twisting generations and winding waterways to face answers to questions he did not ask. Dibdin's mysteries are as nonlinear as the streets and canals of Venice; his prose is literate and seductive.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is my favorite of the Aurelio Zen mysteries I've read.
fryjord
In spite of the Venetian setting and the potentially interesting leading character, I found the plot to be clumsy and the writing to be amateurish.
Mary Jo Robertiello
The plot is interesting, and the characters are well fleshed out.
Marguerite Oriorden

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 18, 1996
Format: Paperback
Dead Lagoon is a richly atmospheric and complex psychological
mystery set in Venice. Michael Dibdin does an excellent job
of using the Venetian landscape as a supporting character in
the mystery at hand. Best of all for armchair travelers, the
two maps included in the book help you follow the action
which ranges across the lagoon in all directions on land,
sea and air. Following the main character, Aurelio Zen, as
he resolves the dual interwoven mysteries and his personal
romantic problems is a most enjoyable reading experience.
Zen is deep, dark and driven. His peregrinations across
Venice in winter are a source of pure delight. The mysteries
at the core of the book are well formulated and keep the
reader guessing until the very end. Dibdin leavens the
darkness of the novel with a touch of black humor. Highly
recommended!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had read Iain Pears books on the recommendation that they were full of Italian background. I found them lacking. Now, this writer and this book take you into the heart of Venice. He captures the italian personality so well. For those of you who have visited Venice you will relive the experience. Great read. Don't miss it! The previous reader didnt enjoy Zen drinking his expresso con grappa. It is the national drink. CinCin
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By saliero on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Misty, mysterious Venice is always a favourite "character", whether it be in fiction or biography. Venice does not give up its secrets easily, and Dibdin is a master at ensuring the tension builds and the plot is assisted through location. He is equally adept at characterisation - the restless, driven Zen, who confronts several ethical dilemmas along the way, and several of the supporting "cast" , all of whom come to life and populate the setting magnificently.
The story itself is intriguing, with enough revelations along the way. There is no great finale denouement, more a piecing together of the jigsaw, and one great personal revelation about Zen's family background.
I thought Dibdin was at his very best when the action moves to the Questura (police headquarters). I half expected Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti to come strollign along the corridor!
The "chase" sequence - on foot and boat through wintry night time Venice was also excellent.
Thoroughly recommended for anyone who enjoys top quality crime fiction. No formulaic writing here!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Diana F. Von Behren TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this installment of the Aurelio Zen series, the protagonist's visit to his native city of Venice is fraught with desire. Zen's dreams include moving away from the detestable Rome and installing himself with his mother and girlfriend Tania into a the Zen villa off the Cannaregio canal. His fantasy lacks substance only because the money he has isn't nearly what he needs to refurbish the decaying house. With his hachet-sharp mind, Zen figures out a way to subsidize his scanty paycheck; he will discover the whereabouts, alive or dead, of a wealthy missing American whose family is willing to pay him plenty to end the legal quagmire his estate is in. In order to stay in Venice in an offical capacity, he attaches himself to a seemingly simple case involving one of his mother's acquaintances, a batty old countess who swears she is being terrorized by intruders in her own stately palazzo. But, Aurelio's best laid machinations fall, so-to-speak, in the black wells known as the pozzi neri or septic tanks over which all the houses of Venice are built. As Zen attempts to solve his investigative puzzles and family problems with his best intentions, he is sidetracked by meeting old friends, one of which is immersed in a political movement meant to eventually restore Venice to it former strategic position as a great trading nation---the other the attractive wife of the movement's leader. With the addition of these new factors, Zen's intital dreams shift and change like the waters in the canals.

Being lucky enough to have visited Venice myself, I found Dibdin's audio, visual and olifactory portrait of the city remarkable. The labyrinth of small bridges, canals and walkways are expertly rendered and a joy to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was looking for an "atmospheric" book to read while I was in Venice. By luck, I found Dead Lagoon and I feel my choice couldn't have been better. The main character, Aurelio Zen, is like the city herself - gritty, complex, flawed but still fascinating. I also found myself thinking that I don't like a lot of things about this guy. But like a car crash on the side of the road, I found it impossible to look away. I had to see how things worked themselves out. I especially enjoyed the way the politics of Italian bureaucracy colors nearly every one of his moves - it's almost like it's another character. I admit reading it from a hotel room on the Grand Canal has probably influenced my review, but I still recommend it because talented writers like Dibdin need to be encouraged to keep working at their craft.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1996
Format: Paperback
One of the best in the Aurelio Zen series along with Cabal. Dibdin is supreme in this series when using Italian bureaucracy to bring the characters down to earth. In this novel he evokes a Venetian setting for the mystery comparable with Conan Doyle's London for atmosphere.
Zen is a wonderfully fallible protaganist. On top of it all sits an intricate thriller. All the books in the series are great it's a shame they're not more popular in the States.
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