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An Aurelio Zen mystery by Michael Dibdin

Zen is sent from Rome to investigate a case in Sardinia in this second novel of the series.

It is not the picture postcard Sardinia popular with tourists that awaits him but an inhospitable, desolate, deprived landscape where there is no one to help him when his own life is at risk.

Zen has been sent to look into the violent killings of a rich businessman and his house guests staying in a remote villa on the island.

As well as the suspects in the case and the unfriendly locals, he also has to contend with his enemies within Criminalpol, sinister figures from the murky world of politics, criminals from his past cases and the jealous husband of a woman he has become involved with.

We learn more about the character of the detective from Venice, whom Dibdin describes as having prominent bones in his face and a slight tautness of the skin, especially around the eyes, which gives him a slightly exotic air probably due to Slav or Semitic blood in his family’s past.

This is the face that has made Zen’s reputation as an interrogator. ‘Where other policemen confronted criminals, using the carrot or the stick, according to the situation, Zen’s subjects found themselves shut up with a man who barely seemed to exist, yet who mirrored back to them the innermost secrets of their hearts. They read their every fleeting emotion accurately imaged on those scrupulously blank features, and knew that they were lost.’
Zen needs all his intuition, resourcefulness and courage to help him solve this case and get back from Sardinia alive.

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