Dead Lagoon: An Aurelio Zen Mystery
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Among the emerging generation of crime writers, none is as stylish and intelligent as Michael Dibdin, who, in Dead Lagoon, gives us a deliciously creepy new novel featuring the urbane and skeptical Aurelio Zen, a detective whose unenviable task it is to combat crime in a country where today's superiors may be tomorrow's defendants.Zen returns to his native Venice. He is searching for the ghostly tormentors of a half-demented contessa and a vanished American millionaire whose family is paying Zen under the table to determine his whereabouts-dead or alive. But he keeps stumbling over corpses that are distressingly concrete: from the crooked cop found drowned in one of the city's noisome "black wells" to a brand-new skeleton that surfaces on the Isle of the Dead. The result is a mystery rich in character and deduction, and intensely informed about the history, politics, and manners of its Venetian setting.
English eccentric who had completely renovated it. Many rich people aspire to own islands, but an island in the Venetian lagoon, within sight and easy reach of the city, yet perfectly private, verdant and isolated, is a privilege reserved for very few. Ivan Durridge got his chance when the Englishwoman, old and ailing, sold her ottagono for a small fortune. Expecting some ostentatious pleasure pavilion, Zen had been surprised by what awaited him at the top of the metal ladder leading up the
door into the first of the suite of rooms on the canal side of the building, the only one still in use. The great space is dark, the shutters tightly fastened. Surely she opened them before going out? Or was that yesterday? A noise behind her makes her start and look round, but it is only one of her plastic shopping bags subsiding. An apple tumbles over the collapsed rim and rolls away towards the edge of the top step. Just beyond, at the bottom of the long flight of stairs, its long bony arm
responses you may have given are inadmissible as evidence. Do you wish to answer the questions again in my presence?’ Bon looked up warily. ‘Do I have to?’ Gorin turned to Zen. ‘Do you intend to place Signor Bon in detention or under arrest?’ This was the crux. Zen had enough evidence against Bon to hold him for questioning, but under the new Code he would have to communicate this fact to the judiciary. That would mean officially revealing his involvement with the Durridge case, and his
earlier generations of Venetians to colonize substantial stretches of the Mediterranean coastline. Aurelio Zen’s solution was less ambitious but just as effective. In the early sixties, a relative of Silvio Morosini who worked in one of the glassworks on Murano had been sent to New York for two weeks as one of a group of Italian artisans demonstrating their traditional skills at a trade fair. On his return, the instant celebrity was fêted at a huge dinner party. Everyone was agog to hear from
this one showed not only the time and the date but also the state of the tide. A simple calculation yielded the information that high water that evening would be around nine o’clock. Which suited Zen nicely. Back in the city, he made his way on foot to Palazzo Zulian. The sun was just showing through the thick haze, a white disc which might have been the source of the cold which gripped the air. Just before turning into the narrow passageway leading to the door, Zen inadvertently stepped in a