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“End Games ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 16/06/2007

End Games
Michael Dibdin
Bantam, August 2007, $23.95, 352 pp.
ISBN 9780375425219

When the new chief of police of Calabria in southern Italy shoots himself in the foot, Aurelio Zen, a Venetian in his heart and soul is temporarily transferred there. He is given indirect instructions to be a policeman and not make any real decisions. It is so quiet he is bored until an America lawyer working for a movie company is kidnapped. Instead of the usual cash ransom to win the victim's freedom, the kidnapper kills Mr. Newman.

While Zen is investigating the homicide, a rich American is using the movie company and the director who is supposed to film Apocalypse, based on Revelations, as a cover to find the tomb of the Goth Alaric. The kidnapper knows that the American wants a priceless artifact that was stolen from the temple; he finds a way to get a piece of the action. Zen learns about both stings and instead of ignoring it like he is supposed to do, he organizes a big operation to take out most of the criminal element in the area.

This is the eleventh but sadly last Aurelio Zen mystery, fittingly titled, as Michael Dibdin recently died. This final book, published posthumously, is a perfect example of what the entire series is like. The protagonist is intelligent and likes to be in on the action but he is politically incorrect, which means he will not be up for promotion anytime soon. Instead the hero is like an old west good guy gunslinger fighting a range war, which would explain his appeal to Americans.

Harriet Klausner

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